Blessed Solstice! Northern and Southern Hemisphere!
May the world be kind to you,
and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself. ~ Jonathan
Blessed Be my Little Witch. To those who came before and those who will come after, know that the Goddess is with you always. Thank you all my dear readers…be blessed. ~GrannyMoon
Dark Moon – Time to Rest
New Moon – Time to Begin New Projects; Birth; Attraction
Waxing Moon – Time to Grow; Increase
Full Moon – Time to be Fulfilled; Abundance
Waning Moon – Time to Banish; Decrease
Last Sliver of Moon – Time to Die; Letting Go
Dark Moon – Time to Rest Again
Light A Candle Today!
In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places. You may want to begin or end your day by the sacred ritual of lighting a candle on this gratefulness. Or you may want to light a birthday candle for a friend. One single guideline is all you need: Slow down and do it with full attention.
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Current Moon Phase: FULL MOON
Time: Approx. 14 days after the new moon (energy lasts from three days before to three days after the actual full moon)
Goddess Aspect: Mother
Associated Goddesses: Danu, Cerridwen, Gaia, Aphrodite, Isis
Magickal Attributes: Manifesting goals, nurturing, passion, healing, strength, power. Workings on this day are for protection, divination,” extra power”, job hunting, healing serious conditions Also, love, knowledge, legal undertakings, money, and dreams.
What’s Happening This Month
Celtic Month of Elder – November 24th to December 23rd
Goddess Month of Astraea – November 28- December 25
Herb of the Year for 2021: Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Flower of the Month for December: Poinsettia
December is National Egg Nog Month. Fruit Cake Month, too
Week 2. Christmas Bird Count Week
December 17: National Maple Syrup Day
December 18: On this day in 1843, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published
December 18: Full Moon in Gemini!
Week 3. Christmas and Kwanza Week
December 21: Winter Solstice: Celebrating the Shortest Day of the Year
December 24: National Egg Nog Day—just in time for Christmas Eve
December 25: At last, Christmas! Have a merry (and healthy!) holiday
December 26: Kwanza
Week 4. A New Year Begins
December 31: New Year’s Eve
Sunday Classes with GrannyMoon at Sticks and Stones, Fairfax, VA
Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ WitchCrafting – Jan 2
Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ The Herb Cauldron – Jan 9
Face to Face Class: Noon – 2:00 PM ~ The Magick of Crystals – Jan 16
High Priestess Training with GrannyMoon
The entire course takes 15 months to complete (four levels). Tuition covers lessons, assignments, and instructor feedback. In addition, students may download guided meditation exercises and be eligible for Sabbats, Esbats, and retreats with the Sisterhood. The entire fee for each level is $120 (payment plan available), sixteen lessons in each level, except the last.
Ceremonial Cords and frame-able Completion Certificates are awarded as members complete each level.
Level I – Initiate of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – White cord
Level II – Adept of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Red cord
Level III – Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Black cord
Level IV – High Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – Green cord
Learn About Herbs with GrannyMoon!
There is so much to learn about herbs! In Herbalism 101, we cover 21 herbs, and you will start your own personal Materia Medica, that we will build throughout the next levels. We will cover the basic aspects of herbs. From culinary to magickal, medicinal to ornamental. As well as the many modalities of herbs!
During this course, in addition to the on-line lessons and hands-on projects that you do at home, I will be sending you articles, and information, as well as questions about your own personal use and research.
I look forward to walking this green journey with you! I love herbs and I hope that you do too or will learn to!
There are 10 lessons in each level and there is no time limit for completion. You may study at your own pace! There are no texts to purchase.
For more info or to join my class, click here!
The cost for Level 1 is $50.00 or $150.00 the entire Healing Arts Course (1-3) which includes a free Reiki certification course when all three are ordered!
Earth Signs and Omens in Nature Course
Learn to read the mysteries of nature! The course covers signs and omens, communication, seasonal rites, trees and shrubs, flowers, plants and weeds, herbs, plant magick, the Guardians of Nature and much more.
The Goddess School Grimoire
eBook (PDF): $6.25
The Goddess School Grimoire is a collection of recipes, artwork, poetry, prose, prayers, rituals, spells, and practical Goddess wisdom put together by the teachers, students, alumni, and friends of The Sisters of the Burning Branch Goddess School. The sisterhood is dedicated to restoring spiritual balance by returning the Divine Feminine to her rightful place and by assisting women in their personal and spiritual development. Since being founded by Head and High Mother Priestess Grandmother Moon in 2000, The Goddess School (GoddessSchool.com) has grown into a large and beautiful global community of women.
Seasons of the Witch: Yule Oracle
Take with thy the dreariest of moments.
Release me for the tongue and nourish me with light.
BHC Newsletter Reta
December 20, 2021 – December 26, 2021
This week the cosmos revs up again with four major aspects and the beginning of Capricorn season. The week’s headliner is Saturn square Uranus (see above), which occurs on Christmas Eve.
The week begins with an exciting Mercury – Uranus aspect (sextile) that is sure to deck the halls with bells of holly. Mercury sextile Uranus stimulates the mind, and you will find yourself excited by new experiences. So, it’s a great day to break away from your usual routines and do something new. On Tuesday, the Sun moves out of Sagittarius and into Capricorn. It’s time to take charge of your life, and an excellent way to do so is to plan out how you will make next year a better one. Capricorn season is about creating realistic plans, taking charge of your destiny, and working to build structures in your life.
During the middle of the week, the Moon moves through playful Leo. It’s a wonderful time to let your inner child free just in time for the holidays. A little bit of caution, though – on Wednesday afternoon, the Moon squares Uranus. Expect the unexpected.
This weekend, besides Saturn square Uranus (see above), Venus retrograde conjoins Pluto for the second time this month on Christmas Day. Tensions may be high over the holiday, especially in relationships that are struggling. It’s an auspicious time to look at what needs to change in your relationships so that everyone gets their needs met. Holding onto relationships for security reasons could lead to harsh consequences.
Recommended Candles: Sun (Astro Magic), Dreams Come True (Blessing Kit), Love (Affirmation)
Here’s what you missed on CoventryCreations.com this week…
Still shopping for that perfect gift? Check out our new Holiday Catalog!
That insightful, witchy, or spiritually mindful person in your life deserves more than just a crummy gift card. Give them a magical gift from Coventry Creations.
Candle Ritual for Managing The Big Picture
Full Moon in Gemini December 18, 2021
On December 18th, the Full Moon lands in mercurial Gemini, and with Jupiter adding her influence, your mind can be put in a tsunami of ideas and inspirations. You’ll experience a pull to wanting to understand the world around you in a much broader sense.
Build up your luck with visions for the future
Lucky Star Spell – December 2021 Witches Union Spell Card
Sagittarius Season teaches us to leave the past behind and look to the future. This potent energy is perfect for magic that manifests our goals and dreams. It’s the energy of a Christmas Miracle!
WINTER SOLSTICE DECEMBER 21, 2021
In the midst of the holiday chaos, the winter solstice brings a moment of complete silence. December 21, 2021 marks the solstice—Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon that marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere in December and for the Southern Hemisphere in June.
The winter solstice is a time of reflection, during the darkest and longest night of the year. A time to spend with family and friends. A time to imagine what the coming year will bring. As an expression in nature, the Winter Solstice is the time to reflect on the power of our spiritual beliefs and the belief in the power of ourselves!
The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day. Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year, it is the seed time of year, the longest night and the shortest day, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King.
We also have a Full Cold Moon on December 18/19, 2021 which is a powerful introduction to the winter solstice. Read the Full Cold Moon Article Here. https://cherokeebilliespiritualadvisor.com/blogs/all/full-moon-december-18-19-2021-heal-the-past-with-archangel-raphael
The Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day “midwinter” (winter solstice) holiday called Yule Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendants of Yule customs.
Elements to work with on the Winter Solstice
Herbs: Holly, mistletoe, pine cones, pine needles, oak leaves, Yule log ashes, fir, birch, hazel bark, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, wintergreen
Colors: Red, green, white, gold, silver
December 2018 brings with it snow (for some), family, feasts, and fun, but remember to grab some hot cocoa during this winter month and relax when you can
Here Are Some Wonderful Suggestions to Start Winter Solstice Traditions
Feed the Wildlife – String cereal onto the thread and drape it across the bare branches of trees for the wildlife to share… some apples too hung on a thread. This is a wonderful gift to the creatures that share our world in the night, the longest night of the year.
Eat by Candlelight -Welcome the return of the sun by eating in only candlelight and firelight… thank the sun for all of its strength and energy, and for bringing light into our lives.
Release The Old You can use this ceremony to release any old thoughts, patterns, or unwanted energy from 2021. Just write down whatever comes, draw a picture. Sometimes words are not needed.
Welcome, The New – One of the most important things that you can do is write out your hopes and dreams for 2022 on slips of paper, then light them on fire by candles or fireplace and watch as the paper transforms to smoke… carrying your intentions out to the universe. Your energy and intention are not unnoticed.
The Winter Solstice and Stonehenge.
Stonehenge is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset. It is thought that the Winter Solstice was actually more important to the people who constructed Stonehenge than the Summer Solstice. The winter solstice was immensely important because the people were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons. Winters were harsh and it was important to store up food at the solstice for the long winter months.
The Winter Solstice is the most important day of the year at Stonehenge and a truly magical time to be there. For many the impulse to arrive at Stonehenge in time for the Solstice is a little like all those people drawn to the strange rock in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s akin to a spiritual experience for those that attend.
On the night of December 21:
Please light a candle (white, gold, or silver) and spend at least 5 minutes in mindful meditation.
Make sure you take time to enjoy this sacred day in some special way.
I’m taking reservations now for my special Yuletide/Winter Solstice Spiritual Reading.. These are quite different than my normal readings. Treat yourself now to a personal treasure with a special Winter Solstice Reading. Grab yours before they are all gone!
Winter Solstice Blessings,
Llewellyn’s Spell A Day
DECEMBER 19, 2021 BY DEVIN HUNTER
The moon is in its home sign of Cancer for most of the day, and we may be feeling a desire to be around a few less people today and stick to ourselves. The winter solstice draws near, and the things that truly matter are likely to be on our mind. Before the rush of the holidays takes full effect, use the power of the Cancer moon to create a place of sanctuary and peace in your home.
For this spell you will need some lavender water and four small to medium-size pieces of citrine, selenite, black tourmaline, or clear quartz. Cleanse your home and the stones using your favorite method, then place one stone each at the front door, back door, common area, and bedroom. Next, lightly sprinkle lavender water around your home and chant the following verse repeatedly until you have covered the entire home:
This sanctuary is blessed by
the Goddess; the Goddess
resides within this space.
DECEMBER 18, 2021 BY KATE FREULER
Cacti are available in stores all year round. These tough little potted plants can survive the harshest conditions and are covered in prickles and spikes. This makes them excellent for use as protection or defense charms. Take advantage of this full moon to create a protection cactus for your home.
Gather these items:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A small potted cactus
- Black paint
- A paintbrush
Sprinkle the salt in the shape of a circle onto a surface in front of you. As you do so, say:
Full moon, full protection, full defense.
Imagine that the circle of salt and the
moon in the sky are connected by
Using the black paint, draw a protective symbol on the pot, such as a pentacle or the shape of a shield. Place the cactus inside the salt circle. Leave it there overnight to absorb the protective powers of the full moon.
Now you have a protection charm disguised as a cute little cactus! Place it in your home to ward off negative energy. Dispose of the salt.
A Pine Blessing
DECEMBER 17, 2021 BY JAMES KAMBOS
Pine has a purifying quality and is perfect to use in blessing rituals at this time of year. Use this ritual to bless your home and family.
You’ll need a bayberry-scented candle, two small pine branches, and a heatproof container, cauldron, or fireplace. Place the candle on your altar and safely light it. In front of the candle, lay the pine branches. Position them so they form a cross. Sit before your altar and say:
Pine, you’re an ancient and mighty tree.
Bless my family and our home.
Protect us from any negativity.
End the ritual by burning the pine branches in the heatproof container, cauldron, or fireplace. Snuff out the candle, but continue to burn it as you wish through New Year’s Day. When the ashes cool, discard them.
Decorate Your Altar for Yule
DECEMBER 16, 2021 BY DEBORAH BLAKE
Some Pagans decorate their entire house for Yule, especially if they are living with non-Pagans and combining their Yule celebration with that of Christmas. But if you are someone who doesn’t decorate, you may want to at least set up a special Yule altar. You can drape it with pine boughs or a swag made from pine and juniper. Use the colors red, green, and gold, and natural elements like pinecones, acorns, and gourds. You can honor the Goddess in her mother role, since she will give birth to the infant god at Yule, returning the sun to the world. Don’t forget that this is a holiday that celebrates the returning light, so if it is safe to do so, be sure to add some candles. ( There are some very realistic-looking battery-powered ones available if you can’t have flames.) Make your altar cheerful and bright, then spend a few minutes in front of it daily.
DECEMBER 15, 2021 BY BLAKE OCTAVIAN BLAIR
The holidays are fast approaching. Soon will begin the flurry of family gatherings, grove and coven events, office parties, and potentially visits to churches, temples, or other religious establishments of importance to your family.
Take an opportunity today, before it all sets in, to center yourself in order to put your best foot forward heading into the holiday season. One way to do this comes from druidic traditions, by connecting to land, sky, and sea with three breaths. You can do this anywhere and anytime, so find a quiet spot that works for you. (Fresh outdoor air is a bonus.)
Begin by focusing on the earth below you, and take a deep, slow breath with the earth. Then, focusing on the sky above you, take another deep, slow breath. Then take a third and final deep, slow breath while focusing on the sea that surrounds and connects us.
DECEMBER 14, 2021 BY ELIZABETH BARRETTE
Spells often leave some sort of residue behind. This can include candle stubs, incense ash, bits of paper, dried petals, and so on. Most of the time, that gets cleaned up during or after an individual spell. However, sometimes magic happens in haste and not everything gets picked up. Here is a ceremony for clearing away the remnants of old spells.
First take everything off your altar. Empty and wash the incense burner. Empty and clean the candleholders. Polish the athame. Wash the ritual bowls, chalice, and stone or pentacle. Painted icons or other delicate items can simply be dusted. Clean the top of your altar with furniture polish (if wood) or glass cleaner (if glass). Make sure you have a fresh supply of incense, charcoal, candles, and other consumables. Check that the matchbox or lighter is full.
Now place the cleaned altar tools back in their customary positions. Say:
All that has gone before is over
and done. What lies ahead is
new and clean. So mote it be!
Powerful Number 13
DECEMBER 13, 2021 BY NAJAH LIGHTFOOT
Today is the 13th day of the month. The number thirteen gets a bad rap for many reasons, but for Witches and believers in the occult, the number thirteen is a powerful number. In traditional Witchcraft, it is the number of people in a coven. It is also the usual number of full moons in a year.
As the moon is in its waxing phase right now, let us call forth the power of the coming full moon with this simple charm. You will need a white candle in a fireproof candleholder.
This evening, light your candle and say:
Thirteen Witches gather round,
Singing, chanting, drawing
the moon down.
In the night by candlelight,
My hopes, dreams, and
wishes take flight.
You can also use this charm when the moon is full.
Crafting Faery Beds
DECEMBER 12, 2021 BY ESTHA MCNEVIN
Using recycled materials to craft small beds for the faeries is a fun way to celebrate the Pagan Yuletide and talk about sustainability, recycling, and how to manifest our hopes and dreams for the future in a world where climate change is part of the daily dialogue. Collect milk or juice boxes, soup cans, egg cartons, and other recycled cups or lids that are small enough for a faery to take a nap in. Sculpt and decorate each bed to your liking.
Stuff muslin sachet bags with lavender and dreamtime herbs like chamomile. Craft some cozy blankets by cutting up old shirts and socks. Hang these on a faery altar or keep them around the home to help promote good dreams. Decorate with images of your dreams and aspirations in life, and ask the faeries to dream a little dream of you!
Celebrating Light in the Darkness
~Susan Wittig Albert
Santa Lucia, thy light is glowing
Through darkest winter night, comfort bestowing.
Dreams float on dreams tonight,
Comes then the morning light,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.
—Traditional Scandinavian song
St. Lucia, whose name means “light,” is honored at the darkest time of the year, in ceremonies that have their origins in pagan Norse tradition. Under the Julian calendar, the winter solstice was celebrated on December 13th, then believed to be the longest night of the year. The Yule period was full of very real difficulties and danger, and in the north countries, people believed that the long weeks of darkness and bone-chilling cold left everyone vulnerable to witches and evil spirits. Light cheered the soul and warded off danger. (Read more about the pagan origins of this Christianized holiday.)
Throughout northern Europe, this special day marks the beginning of Yule and Christmas celebrations, feasting, and merriment. Traditionally, the oldest daughter of the family, wearing a coronet of pine sprigs and lingonberries decorated with five lighted candles, wakened her parents with a breakfast of saffron buns (Saffronsbrod) and coffee. The precious golden saffron (derived from the flower of the saffron crocus) was symbolic of sunshine and light.
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons dry yeast
3 to 3 1/4 cups flour
Glaze: 1 egg white, beaten lightly with 1 teaspoon water; sugar
Soften the saffron in the hot water (about 10 minutes). In a mixing bowl, blend the saffron water, milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg, and yeast. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well, then add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough (15 minutes by hand, 12 minutes in an electric mixer), then set it aside to rise until light and puffy (about 2 hours). Punch the dough down, and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Divide into 16 pieces: divide into fourths, divide each fourth into fourths. Shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls fairly close together (but not touching) in a 9”x13”-inch pan, cover them, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until they’re puffy. Glaze the buns with the mixture of beaten egg white and water, then sprinkle heavily with sugar. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Yield: 16 buns.
Lucy light, Lucy light,
The shortest day and the longest night.
Heartwings Love Notes 1013 Holidays can bring back the past
Heartwings says, “The past does not need to dictate the future.”
Because I am unaccustomed to needing help, I have often refused it without thinking. For years my automatic response to offers for help has been, “No thanks, I’m fine,” or “No, I can do it myself, thank you.” The other day I said no to an offer of help when getting out of a car. Actually, I could have used the help, as my physical challenges have grown. However, without thinking I said “no, thanks.” Stephen chided me and asked me why I had done that, when I could have had an easier time by accepting. I thought about it, and a memory came to me.
A good number of years ago my mother and I were visiting my brother in California. He was driving his small truck, and my mother and I rode in it with him. We stopped and got ready to get out. I slid out and offered to help her down. She adamantly refused. As I reflected on the memory, I remembered how independent she had always been. Then I realized that unconsciously I had patterned myself on her behavior.
This is an easy thing to do, and we do it without thinking. Our parents are our first models for how adults conduct themselves. It’s no wonder that without realizing it, we imitate them. As I understand it, until we are around eight years old, we are apt to take our behavioral cues from the adults around us. After that our peers often become our examples of how to behave. However, the patterns we absorb as young children are often the ones that on a subconscious level keep influencing us.
If once we become aware of them, we wish to change these behaviors, we must first catch ourselves in the act, so to speak. At that point, we can decide to do things differently, as I did the next time I was offered help. Catching myself right at the point of saying, “No, thanks,” I said, “Yes, thank you.” I took my friend’s hand, and I was happy to find myself getting out of the car with greater ease.
I hope that I never get too old to learn or to grow more aware of anything that I would benefit from changing. It is a wonderful experience to be able to do this. I am enormously grateful for the ability as well as the opportunity. It has been my experience that holidays are a fine chance to observe our automatic behaviors. Many of us spend quality time around family members. This calls forth that kind of unconscious, early patterning behavior.
As we are able to be mindful during those times, we often can learn something new about ourselves and how we act. Then if we wish, we can change what we would like to change, and find ourselves and our lives the better for new ways of doing and being. The key to being able to do this is to keep the mind clear of speculation and apprehension. If we can eliminate thinking ahead as to how people will react to us or what they will think about us, and instead be present in the moment, we can learn a very great deal about ourselves that will be helpful.
May you enjoy your holidays and learn something new as well.
Blessings and best regards, Tasha Halpert
Do you have a tale to share, a comment to make, or a question or suggestion? I would love to hear from you and am always happy to respond. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do visit my web pages for more at http://www.heartwingsandfriends.com.
A 21st Century Wheel of the Year: Restoration at the Winter Solstice
The time of the greatest darkness is upon us at the winter solstice. Each morning, the sun seems to struggle to rise and hangs low in the sky. The world is covered in frost, cold, and snow, and the darkness of winter sets in. This is a hard time for many, perhaps more so now than before, given the cultural darkness and challenges that so many of us are facing globally and locally. So facing the darkness, in this very challenging time, takes something extra.
In my first post on this series (Receptivity at the Fall Equinox), I made the case that the traditional Wheel of the Year was developed and enacted under very different conditions than our present age. We now live in the Anthropocene, a period of human-driven climate change and cultural unrest which is very different than the Holocene, the period of relatively stable climate where the Wheel of the Year was developed. I argue that it will take a different kind of approach to celebrating the wheel of the year if we are to thrive in this age. Thus, I am offering a series of eight posts this coming year that focus on each of the traditional wheel of the year holidays and how they might be adapted to these darker and less stable times. I believe we need new approaches to celebrating our traditional wheel that emphasize the skills and vision that will help us not only navigate the continuing crisis but also help us bring forth a better future for our descendants and all life.
Previous posts in this series include the Fall Equinox (Receptivity) and Samhain (Release). So if we think about how the wheel turns, after release–letting go, getting rid of all that holds you to former structures that are, frankly, crumbling around us. So what comes next in our wheel of the year? I argue at the time of deepest darkness, we should pay attention to our own needs and healing with the theme of restoration – for, without this, no work can proceed as we move forward back into the light and tackle some really hard stuff to come, stuff that is more externally focused! In other words, we have to get our own house and mental health in order (the sequence of Fall Equinox- Samhain -Winter Solstice) so we can look externally in the year to come.
The Need for Restoration: Languishing and Solastalgia
A new term is popping up on news feeds as of late: “languishing.” Languishing is somewhere in between well-functioning and deep depression. It is a state of feeling apathy, restlessness, feeling like the things that once brought you joy no longer do, feeling unsettled, and not interested in life. According to this article, research demonstrated that a good number of people are languishing, particularly in younger generations. This term describes well what many people are facing. What do we do about languishing rather than thriving?
The other piece that is coming into play with climate change is the concept of solastalgia. Coined in 2007 by Albreiht et. al., they define it as follows “solastalgia is the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment.” If we think about all of the increasing changes we face–from wildfires to droughts to continued extraction activities, this concept grows more pressing and real. How many of us have watched a forest that we loved get cut or burned, a pipeline come through our favorite swamp, or even a mountaintop get removed? How does that affect our mental well-being?
The real crux of the issue that I see is that things aren’t going to get any better globally. Climate change is going to grow increasingly worse, and with it, a lot of other things are also on the decline. Sure, things may stabilize for a bit, but we are in the ‘slow crash’ and things are going to keep tumbling down. Thus, we have to figure out ways to support ourselves and our communities–and to be strong enough to face our present age. I’m not mincing my words here. I don’t think at this point anyone can ignore the crisis of our age or its severe impact on our mental or physical health. And if we are going to thrive in the coming age, we need to be in the strongest place possible: mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Understanding Restorative Activities
Restoration can be defined in a few different ways. It includes returning to health, bringing back to a former position or condition, or improving the condition of someone or something. Part of restorative work is understanding our needs: what needs are being met, what needs remain unfulfilled, what we have the power to change and control, and what we have to learn to accept.
Restoration Meditation: Uncovering what Works
Understanding your own needs for restoration and rejuvenation is really central to this work. I think that sometimes we buy into the hype of various products and “self-care” gimmicks, as though they can provide us the healing and restoration that we need. Or we listen to what other people think is a good idea rather than our own intuition. So take a moment to set all of that aside and start thinking about your own needs and how you can be restored. Thus, starting with this meditation can help you work through what is possible and create a game plan.
Think about the times that brought you the most rest. What were they? When were they? What conditions did they come under?
Think about the time that you feel you were in the best mental health. When was that? What conditions were present?
What is your perfect restful day look like? Is it away from home or at home? What are the conditions that allow you to have this perfect restful day?
Do you ever prevent yourself from practicing self-care? Think about the deep emotions or issues that might be present in this issue.
Does anyone else ever prevent you from rest and healing? Is there a way to mitigate this problem?
How can you create or replicate the conditions that allow you to rest? What limitations or issues might you need to address?
What basic needs do you have that are unfulfilled? Is there anything you can dot work to fulfill them?
How do you support your physical body? What can you do differently (food, exercise, rest, etc.)?
How do you support your emotions and mental health? What can you do differently?
First, understanding your own needs is central. Nobody can define for you what rejuvenates you and how you can find your own healing–you must do that for yourself. And your needs for restoration are not necessarily the needs of other people. For example, for me, the most restful thing I can do is stay home and be in my gardens and art studio, have a lot of unstructured time where I have no obligations to anyone, stay off of social media, and not answer texts or my phone. Those things can create a deep sense of peace, the flow of awen, and the ability for me to dig into some really cool projects uninterrupted. This is really different than, say, someone who wants to travel far from home and spend a week on the beach. The point here is to know yourself and how you work.
The second part of this, getting at bullet point four, is self-sabotage or sabotage by other family members or close friends. Sometimes we actively or subconsciously prevent ourselves from getting the rest and restoration we need. Deeply examine any of these issues and where they may come from as part of this work. And sometimes, we have people in our lives who actively try to thwart self-care activities–and its important to recognize both of these so that we can heal.
White Pine Forest Bathing and White Pine Healing Steams, Baths, and Teas
Turning to evergreens, particularly the pine family and white pine, is an excellent idea as a restorative activity. Since the white pine is an evergreen tree, it reminds us of the green of summer and holds back the darkness. White pine, both physically and energetically, draws things out. Matthew Wood in The Earthwise Herbal, describes how, in the days of early America, people would simply walk through White Pine woods to help heal their consumption and tuberculosis. Even today, herbalists use White Pine steam treatments and tinctures for people who have problems with breathing. The connection to the breath is important–as we go about our lives in this very difficult age, it feels like many of us are holding our breath.
As a restorative activity, visit a white pine forest or spend time with a white pine tree. Make sure you ask the tree’s permission to spend time and leave an appropriate offering. Simply be with the tree or in the forest, breathing in and out, sitting near the trunk, wandering and looking for messages, and allowing the energy of the white pine to soothe you. Release the tension in your body, mind, and spirit.
Additional activities surrounding the white pine include doing a white pine bath (gather up needles with permission and an offering, add them to a bath and soak), a healing white pine tea (brew needles for 3 minutes, add honey), or a white pine herbal steam (instructions here). All of these can be combined with other winter solstice activities or
If you don’t have white pine in your ecosystem, you can find an equivalent conifer–a dominant evergreen conifer tree, tall, majestic, with medicinal qualities ideally connected with the lungs.
The holidays around the Winter Solstice, at least here in the US, feel like an insanely busy time. Making a commitment to yourself to take some quiet moments and/or embrace slowness really matters. Our culture glorifies busyness and the constant ticking off of to-do lists and this can contribute substantially to feeling over-worked, over-committed, and exhausted. The following suggestions are ways to “slow down” and embrace a slower approach–which itself can be very rejuvenating.
Candlelight evenings and embracing the darkness. Living by candlelight is another restorative activity that can have substantial restorative benefits. Electronic devices emit a blue light which can inhibit the production of melatonin, which can prevent you from falling asleep. Shift your lighting to any kind of natural light, even for an evening or two. Pick up a real book (not an e-reader or phone) and enjoy the quiet, slowness, and stillness of the winter. Embrace the extra sleep that this kind of practice allows.
Technology detox. Allow yourself to have a serious break from your electronic devices and the many obligations they bring. Disconnect–for a few days, a week, whatever you want to do–and go technology-free. To do this successfully, let friends or family know what you are doing and make a commitment in advance. Often when people do this, at first there is a bit of panic or even withdrawal–we are so used to constantly picking up our phones, etc. But after a day or two when the initial shock wears off, you realize how much better you feel without the constant technological tether. This can create more meaningful opportunities to engage in a spiritual practice, explore one’s own understanding of the world, or embrace bardic arts. Consider how you might fill the time normally spent interacting with technology with restorative activities.
Embracing a “slow” philosophy. The slow movement has been gaining traction for many years. The philosophy has many components, slow food, slow spirituality, slow work, and slow time to name a few. The principle is simple and yet very difficult to enact: we slow down. We take our time to cook healthy food that came from local sources or that we grew, we reframe our relationship and time commitments to work, we create unstructured leisure time, and we reject the many cultural demands that say we must work harder, faster, and always be on the go. This is an incredibly restorative activity!
The Druid’s Retreat
Another restorative that can be done is for you to have a retreat. A retreat is a fantastic way to set aside time for spiritual growth and rejuvenation. A retreat can restore you in ways that few other things can. I have two posts that go into detail about how to set up your retreat and how to go about your retreat. Winter is a lovely time to do a retreat–rent a cabin, find a way to do a home retreat, etc. I always do a winter retreat–usually in late Dec and early January, when I’m off from my job, when the rush of the holidays has ended, and it simply allows me time to rest and dig deeply into my own spiritual practices.
My suggestions above hopefully will get your own creative ideas flowing for how to embrace rejuvenation and restoration at this darkest time of the year. This is such important work to do–for if the healer is herself not healed, how can she heal others? As we begin to move forward from the Winter Solstice and back into the time of light, our bodies, spirits, and minds are restored and we can consider the powerful and meaningful work that is to come. Blessings of the winter solstice to you, dear readers!
Article on Druidry 101: Finally, I wanted to share my article on Druidry 101 that was published this week in Spirituality and Health magazine. Please check it out! https://www.spiritualityhealth.com/druidry-for-beginners
The Fun and Frolics of a Medieval Christmas
by Alli Templeton
Each December, as the midwinter feasting season approaches, I set aside a little time amid the frenzy of preparations to delve into my medieval history books. In this precious little escape from the modern commercial hype I research some elements of Christmases long past that I can resurrect for my own celebrations. So now, each year we venture out with some secateurs and bring in the Christmas greenery, we listen to some early carols, and on New Year’s Day a new Templeton tradition sees us light a fire in the garden, rinse out the cauldron and cook up a delicious medieval feast. This year my research promises to add some real fun, because I’ve been getting a tantalising taste of medieval Christmas entertainments.
Contrary to the common belief that life in the Middle Ages was all drabness and drudgery, medieval people really knew how to enjoy themselves, and they actually had more time off than we do today. The Catholic calendar ensured the year was punctuated by saints’ days and religious holidays that everyone was expected to observe and celebrate, and the two most important of these were Easter and Christmas. In today’s mad world, following the long commercialised build-up to Christmas we scrape by with just a few days or a week off if we’re lucky, but back then everyone got a real chance to kick back and unwind. Even if you were a peasant living under the thumb of your lord, the lack of agricultural activity at this time of year meant you were granted a whole fortnight of downtime, from Christmas Eve until the feast of Epiphany on 6th January. And although religious observation was central to medieval life, so was fun, frolics and feasting.
Just as it is today, the most important part of the entertainments was the Christmas feast, but for medieval people the main meal would have been particularly appreciated. Whereas today’s season of Advent usually involves indulgence in mince pies, chocolate calendars and a series of get-togethers and parties, during the Middle Ages the period running up to Christmas was a time for the complete opposite – fasting, abstinence and repentence in preparation for God’s coming, or in Latin, his Adventus. So by the time Christmas Day arrived people would have been ready for a hearty meal and a good knees-up.
Of course, the traditional turkey dinner was a long way in the future, but the manors and castles around the land rang to the sounds of jollity and music while an elaborate procession of food was brought into the bedecked great hall with its cheering fire, headed up by a showpiece of a traditional decorated boar’s head on a platter. The extensive menu might include vegetable soups or stews, an array of poultry dishes and beef, game or fish, together with accompanying richly flavoured sauces made with wine, spices and herbs and thickened with breadcrumbs. Another popular dish was the Chistmas, or ‘shredded pie’, containing different types of leftover meat minced and cooked with suet, spices and fruit, all arranged in layers and baked in a pastry case. The pie was usually topped with an oval lid to represent the crib with a little pastry baby Jesus placed on top, and this full-sized high-status dish was the ancestor of our mince pies. Also on offer would have been plenty of cheese, bread and nuts, while the sweet treats included fruit custards, various pastries and exotic fruits such as oranges, figs and dates, all washed down with generous helpings of wine, mead and ale. The culinary delights even continued between courses, when a selection of decorated nibbles glazed with sugar and honey, called entremets, were brought out for the diners’ delectation.
But it wasn’t just the upper crust who dined in style at Christmas. The lord’s tenants owed him bread, hens and ale, but in return he was obliged to give them Christmas dinner – as long as they brought their own trencher, napkin and some fuel for the fire. Still, I can’t imagine there were many that turned down the opportunity to dine at the castle and get a taste of how the other half lived…
Making merry at the feast…
But Christmas in the Middle Ages was about much more than Catholic masses and a posh meal. With much emphasis on recreation and merriment over the festive period, there were all kinds of entertainments on offer. The big feast was followed by more drinking, singing of songs and carols with dancing to the music of pipes, lutes, flutes and drums. Professional minstrels and acrobats would perform tricks and tell witty tales in verse, while puppet shows were staged and folktales were told, embellished from year to year to thrill the eager audiences. The appetite for midwinter revelry was so great that sometimes it was feared things would get out of hand. Often the lord would appoint a special watch force to keep an eye on the Christmas celebrations in case rioting broke out.
Musicians played while the revellers sang and danced…
And then, of course, there were the games. Sports featured prominently in the festivities, with competitions of archery and wrestling, and ball games such as medieval football. This took the form of a rowdy contest in which two teams of unlimited numbers, sometimes from neighbouring villages, each attempted to move a ball to an agreed destination. But with huge teams and few, if any rules, participants often sustained injuries, and some even died during the chaotic matches. On the coldest days, frozen lakes would become a playground for the adventurous, who would strap animal bones to their feet and, clutching a pole for propulsion, enjoy an exhilarating skate on the ice.
Festive sporting competitions included wrestling, sometimes even, it seems on piggyback!
In other pursuits, Christmas was a time when you could get away with a bit of gambling, and a favourite activity was to have a little flutter playing at dice or cards. There were board games such as Chess, Backgammon and Nine Mens Morris, and if you didn’t mind a bit of lively horseplay or personal injury, there were several other parlour games to be enjoyed. In Hoodman Blind, an early version of Blind Man’s Buff, one person was blindfolded with his own reversed hood before being struck and pushed around by the other players until he managed to catch someone else, who then took his place. Another, more barmy game called Snap-dragon involved a large amount of dried fruit floating in a bowl full of brandy. So far so good, but the brandy was then set alight, and the contestants had to snatch a piece of fruit from the flames and eat it as quickly as possible, resulting in lots of burnt fingers and mouths. Not sure that one will make it into the canon of Templeton Christmas traditions…
Towns and cities might play host to seasonal pageants, in which a procession of wagons would carry folk dressed as characters from the Christmas story, while troupes of masked pantomime artists, sometimes numbering over a hundred, roamed through the streets accompanied by bands of musicians. These ‘mummers’, elaborately dressed as knights and lords or cavorting around in animal masks would enter people’s homes to entertain the occupants, dancing or playing dice for which they would receive payment in food and drink. Short plays could also be perfomed, often featuring scenes from famous legends such as St George and the Dragon, with recurring characters of a fool and a man dressed as a woman.
The merriment would continue until Twelfth Night, an important date in the medieval calendar that marked the end of the Christmas holiday. Steeped in superstition and custom, this was another occasion for feasting and frolics, but also for looking ahead to the coming year and the all-important growing season. This was a time for wassailing, when a group of revellers would go to the orchards with a bowl full of a warm spiced alcoholic drink, singing and banging pots and pans as they went, with the intention of warding off any bad spirits and pleasing the good ones in the hope of a bountiful harvest in the year to come.
At this time, normal rules did not apply. A tradition derived from the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, the midwinter revels saw the social order turned on its head. For this brief interlude, the lords became the servants and the lower orders took over. A Twelfth Night cake was baked, with a bean concealed in one half for the men and a pea in the other for the women. The man who found the bean in his slice – assuming he didn’t choke on it first – became the king of the bean, while the woman took on the role of queen of the pea. The honoured couple then ruled over the proceedings for the night, lording it over everyone who had to follow their example, whatever they did at the table. The game doubtless made for a thoroughly raucous party for the last day of the festive fortnight. What a way to end Christmas…
So what can I take from these medieval entertainments into my own family Christmas? Well, I can certainly foresee a new tradition of an annual archery contest, and I’ve remembered I have a gaming set of Nine Mens Morris tucked away in my wardrobe, so that will be brought out for a go at a medieval board game. It’d be fun to learn a carolling dance, and during the long nights, when there’s nothing worth watching on the telly, I might well dust off my copy of the Legends of King Arthur and tell a good story – possibly even in verse – beside the fire.
When it comes to Christmas, medieval people certainly didn’t hold back, and health and safety clearly wasn’t much of a concern. But while games involving blazing booze and team violence are best left in the past, it’s clear that in these over-commercialised, work-obsessed times, in many ways we’re missing out on much of the fun and recreation that our medieval forebears enjoyed. So my Christmas wish for all my readers is: I hope you can switch off entirely, forget the everyday stresses of life and work, have fun and take as long a break from modernity as you can. Christmas past has a lot to offer…
… and I wish you all a joyous festive fortnight, and a New Year filled with health, wealth and happiness!
The Victorian Book of the Dead
The Rector’s Ghost: c. 1815
Since the season of holiday decorating is upon us, let’s start the month of December with a tale of two church officials trying to enjoy a well-earned cup of cheer after decorating St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester.
THE RECTOR’S GHOST
In the ancient town of Dorchester, Dorset, one Christmastide (I cannot fix the exact date, but it was not earlier than 1814, and might probably have been the following year), a rumor arose that a ghost had appeared in the old church of St. Peter’s to the clerk and sexton. They were both dreadfully frightened, and the former, I think, insensible for a time. The spirit was said to be the Rev. Nathaniel Templeman, the late rector, who died in 1813.
The story reached the ears of the then rector, the Rev. Henry John Richman, a learned and intelligent man, genial and kindly (I have the pleasantest recollections of him). The action be took in this affair was attributed to his eccentricity, in which he certainly gave proofs in regard to some other matters. He had an invalid wife and sister-in-law, both very nervous; so, to avoid annoying them, he examined the clerk and sexton both together, and apart, at the house of my aunt. I was quite a child then, but can just remember the whispering and excitement, and the men being shut in with the rector. The particulars of the story I heard afterward.
It was the custom in Dorchester, on Christmas Eve, for the clerk and sexton to decorate the church, not in the artistic fashion of modern times, but with large bunches of holly and mistletoe stuck about indiscriminately. Afterwards they gave the church a good cleaning for Christmas Day. On this Christmas Eve, the clerk and the sexton, after locking the doors of the church in order to prevent the intrusion of curious persons, busied themselves, as usual in Christmas preparations until the winter day drew to a close, when they sat down, on a form in the north aisle, to rest from their labors.
Then it was, as they told Mr. Richman, that the temptation came upon them to take a glass of the Sacramental wine, which kept in the vestry. After obtaining wine, they became aware that someone was sitting between them on the form. There had been no sound of steps, and the figure passed neither, but seemed to grow upon the seat. They both recognized the later rector, or “Old Master,” as they called him: he had the old familiar look and dress. He turned with a stern countenance from one to the other shaking his head in his peculiar way, but did not speak. The sexton, Ambrose Hunt, was able to say the Lord’s Prayer; Clerk Hardy was utterly unable to utter a word, and shook with extreme terror. The spirit after a while rose, and retreated down the aisle, turning round occasionally with the same awful look. He seemed to melt or vanish over the family vault, where his body lay. I never heard any explanation, except a surmise that somebody concealed in the church, and dressed like the late rector, frightened the men, but the “somebody” was never discovered, and I believe the other good rector believed the men’s story.—
Lucia A. Stone.
Shute Haye, Walditch, Bridport, Eng.
Spiritual Scientist February 1878: p. 19
So many details turn this into an M.R. James story: “no sound of steps,” “turning round occasionally with the same awful look,” and melting into the family vault.
The Rev. Nathaniel Templeman, who died 12 June 1813 and was succeeded by his curate, Mr Richman, was Rector of St Peters for 32 years–no wonder he was called “Old Master.”
While I can’t find a Clerk Hardy in the online parish records, Ambrose Hunt and Thomas Hardy are listed as witnesses at a number of weddings conducted by Mr Richman. I wonder if there is any link to the novelist Thomas Hardy, who, with architect John Hicks, helped restore St Peters in 1856-7? Hardy’s father, also named Thomas, was a violinist in his village church choir and a stone mason. It would hardly be a stretch, since the novelist was fascinated by the supernatural, to find that his father had met the rector’s ghost. But perhaps the name was a common one in the area.
Thoughts on the Hardy genealogy in relation to this tale? Or of newer visitations from the Rector? Some modern lists of haunted sites say that he angrily comes back when theft or damage is threatened to St Peters. chriswoodyard8 AT gmail.com
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead. And visit her new blog at The Victorian Book of the Dead.
A Self-Healing Day
A beautiful gift to yourself is a day of healing and nourishing just for you.
Human beings carry within themselves the seed of healing. Our choices affect us more than we realize, and it is because of this that we tend to place responsibility for our wellness in the hands of others. As beneficial as regular visits to a healer can be, we have the power to heal ourselves at will. When we dedicate a day to the pursuit of wellness, we can relax and renew ourselves in a nourishing and comfortable environment. A sincere desire to open ourselves to the highest realities of our physical and spiritual selves is the key to self-healing so that healing energy can flow into us unimpeded.
A self-healing day should address the vital needs of the self as a whole while directing healing energy where it is needed most. Solitude is an important part of the process as is the ability to take refuge in a space that is both beautiful and peaceful. Start your healing day by setting the intention that you are dedicating this time to healing yourself. Flowers, candlelight, incense, and music can guide our focus toward a more tranquil state. For a more intense session, try listening to music through headphones since tuning out can help you tune in. It is up to us to decide what we need to do to cultivate wellness in our lives. For some, it may be time spent in reflection. Others will turn to calming activities that help them remember their purpose, such as journal writing, being in nature, or studying. Our healing may even take a more direct form as we use color, sound, or crystals to balance and ground ourselves.
Ultimately, your wholesome intentions transform what might otherwise be a simple day of rest into a day of healing. Grant yourself permission to relax and savor the stillness. If you attune yourself to the calm around you, worldly distractions will be minimized and the unadulterated flow of your consciousness will reestablish itself in the forefront of your mind. The needs of the body, the heart, and the soul will then be revealed to you, empowering you to tap into the essential healing energy of the universe. The mechanism you use to channel this energy will be dependent on your shifting requirements, so each day of healing you enjoy will be unique. All will replenish you, however, allowing you to recreate yourself in a perfect image of health.
We can learn to locate the seed of peace inside ourselves in order to have a reliable source of serenity.
In our noisy world, we often find ourselves longing for peace and searching to find it somewhere else. While it’s true that there are places we can visit where we can experience peace, such as sacred sites or buildings, we do not need to wait until we get to one of these places to feel at peace. Instead, we can learn to locate the seed of peace inside ourselves and cultivate it so that it grows into a reliable source of serenity that we can always access, no matter where we are.
We experience peace when we are in a state of mental calm and serenity. It might surprise you to notice how infrequently you allow yourself to be free from anxiety. Realizing this is the first step to inner peace. If you wait until all the details of your life are taken care of to allow yourself to experience peace, you will never feel peaceful because there is always something that your mind can grab onto to create anxiety. It is important to consciously set aside your worries and make time to cultivate inner peace.
Ideally, you could schedule time each day to meditate on peace and experience what it feels like to be calm and serene. It takes practice to learn how to let go of your worries, so give yourself some time. Inhale deeply, and feel your worries dissolve with every exhale. Remind yourself that soon enough you will be able to take care of everything you need to, but right now you are taking a break. As the clutter of your thoughts and concerns clear away, you will start to feel more serene. Allow yourself to move deeper into this state with each inhale. Realize that you have the power to free yourself from anxiety simply by deciding to do so. The more you practice feeling peaceful, the easier it will be for you to feel at peace.
~Ghost Hunting Theories
My father came to America from Norway in the 1920s. They changed their last name from Thorvaldsen to Day to be more “American.” But, my father kept his fond memories of the homeland and the traditions his father from Norway and mother from Sweden passed on. We had Scandinavian Christmas celebrations every year with a large Smorgasbord spread, live candles on the tree, and opening gifts on Christmas Eve night. To this day, the look of Christmas for me is purely Northern –
Some elements of Scandinavian Christmas decor include – Reindeer, snowflakes, nature objects like pine cones, birch bark, burlap, straw ornaments and paper woven ornaments, bare tree branches, fur, antlers, and evergreens.You might see symbols such as stars, snowflakes, Santa, goats, reindeer, and gnomes.
It is a very dark season for the Northern latitudes. Light colors, white, sunshine in windows, crystals and glass beads hung in windows to catch light, candles, fires are all part of the brightening of the holiday season.
We had all the traditional foods on our Smorgasbord including Yule Log, but one of my personal favorites was mom’s smoked salmon spread –
*1 lg can pink or red salmon (remove any bones)
8 oz cream cheese soft
2 tsp horseradish
2 tsp grated onion
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
*My favorite way to do this is to remove the liquid smoke and canned salmon in the recipe and use a package of smoked salmon.
Use mixer or food processor to mix. Shape it into a log and then roll it in some diced fresh dill. We served it with Flatbrod (Finn Crisp and other flatbreads can be found on the cracker aisle).
This variety of Scandinavian favorites makes a great mingling party and nibble fest.. As a child, we sometimes dared each other to eat things we never imagined like fish treated in lye. Modern Scandinavian cuisine is one of the most sought after palate pleasers in the world. Taking the exceedingly healthy elements of the northern diet and creating new presentations, Scandinavia has now become a sought after destination for gourmands.
Some of the items we had on our table –
pickled herring, Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce (for our friends who were not so adventurous), cheeses like jarlsburg and gjetsost, flat bread, pickles, beet salad, ham, dill sauce, smoked salmon, ginger cookies, glogg, saffron cake, and rice pudding.
If you have an Ikea near you, they have a fantastic Scandinavian market inside for the foods. Another source is Willy’s Products.
When I was growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, we five kids would hike into the woods surrounding our estate and argue over what tree would be our Christmas tree. We had clip-on candle holders on the limbs and used live candles that we really only lit on Smorgasbord (Christmas Eve) night. I’m surprised we survived it. Today, you can get electric ones with a beautiful effect.
The Swedish Goat
The Norse God, Thor, had a flying chariot guided by two goats. Then, Christianity came along and the symbol of the Julbock became something dark for those who weren’t deserving of Christmas and representing the devil.
The symbol, usually made of straw, is still a Scandinavian precious familiar character.
Finding Your Next Step in Life
It is when you are willing to listen to yourself and be fearless, that figuring out your next step becomes easy.
Our lives are made up of a complex network of pathways that we can use to move from one phase of life to the next. For some of us, our paths are wide, smooth, and clearly marked. Many people, however, find that they have a difficult time figuring out where they need to go next. Determining which “next step” will land you on the most direct route to fulfillment and the realization of your life purpose may not seem easy.
There are many ways to discover what the next step on your life path should be. If you are someone who seeks to satisfy your soul, it is vital that you make this inquiry. Often, your inner voice will counsel you that it’s time for a change, and it is very important to trust yourself because only you know what is best for you. Personal growth always results when you let yourself expand beyond the farthest borders of what your life has been so far. When figuring out what your next step will be, you may want to review your life experiences. The choices you’ve made and the dreams you’ve held onto can give you an idea of what you don’t want to do anymore and what you might like to do next. It is also a good idea to think about creative ways you can use your skills and satisfy your passions. Visualizing your perfect future and making a list of ways to manifest that future can help you choose a logical next step that’s in harmony with your desires. Meditation, journal writing, taking a class, and other creative activities may inspire you and provide insight regarding the next step in life that will bring you the most satisfaction.
It is when you are willing to listen to yourself and be fearless that figuring out your next step becomes easy. Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing that always knows which step you need to take next. If you can allow the taking of your next step to be as easy as putting one foot in front of the next, you’ll notice that your next step is always the one that is right in front of you. All you have to do is put one foot forward and on the ground.
Classic Holiday Film Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary
by Jenny Ashcraft
In 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life debuted in theaters across the country. This iconic family Christmas film was based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift. Initial tickets sales were disappointing, and reviews mixed. Though it received five Academy Award nominations, it did not win any Oscars. The film did not even come close to breaking even. Years later, the movie lapsed into the public domain, which allowed it to be broadcast without royalty fees. Television audiences rediscovered the film, and its popularity grew. It’s a Wonderful Life is now considered one of the greatest films of all time. It is No. 1 on the American Film Institute’s list of most inspirational movies. In 1990, the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry.
When author Philip Van Doren Stern began writing The Greatest Gift in 1939, he could have never dreamed that his story would one day become one of the most beloved holiday films of all time. Stern was a respected historian and best known for his books on the Civil War. This story was his first attempt at fiction. He finished the story, loosely based on the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol, in 1943. Unable to find a publisher, Stern printed 200 copies and sent them to friends as Christmas cards. One copy went to a producer at RKO Pictures, who then bought the motion picture rights. He showed the story to actor Cary Grant, who became interested in playing the lead role. Before anything concrete materialized, RKO sold the rights to director Frank Capra’s production company, Liberty Films, for $10,000. Capra adapted the story for the big screen.
Jimmy Stewart played the lead character, George Bailey. Initially, Stewart was hesitant to accept the part. He was still recovering from his traumatic experiences during the war and considered giving up acting altogether, seeing it as frivolous and unimportant. However, when Stewart read the script, he was touched and signed on to do the film. The plot centered on Bailey, a discouraged man who was contemplating suicide and wished he had never been born. Bailey then meets his guardian angel, who grants him his wish. Bailey soon realized that his absence left a gaping hole in the lives of his family and friends. The realization brought a renewed zest for life and joy in living.
The film debuted the first Christmas after WWII ended. The nation was in a celebratory mood, and though It’s a Wonderful Life ended on a joyful note, the film didn’t immediately resonate with audiences. “Our movie just got lost,” said Stewart. In 1974, the copyright for the movie lapsed, allowing television stations to broadcast it at no cost. A whole new generation discovered the film, and its popularity soared. More than 80,000 people purchased a videocassette copy of the movie in 1986. In 1987, that number nearly doubled. Watching the film became a Christmas tradition for many American families. Later in his life, Jimmy Stewart said that It’s a Wonderful Life was his favorite film.
Seventy-five years later, audiences continue to cherish It’s a Wonderful Life. Do your holiday plans include this Christmas classic? To see more newspaper clippings related to this iconic holiday movie, search Newspapers.com™ today.
Things That Go Bump In The Night
~ Ivy SylvanVeil (email@example.com)
From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us! Scottish Prayer
After reading, “The Rational Psychic” by Jack Rourke, I must admit that I lean quite a bit in that direction. What I mean by that is that with paranormal claims, I try to debunk them first. Is there a logical explanation? While I pick things up telepathically, I don’t assume that what I get is true to the specific location and situation. Sometimes what I get is “spot on”. One time I got the first and last names of seven Civil War Soldiers. After looking them up on the NPS Soldiers and Sailors database I found that 4 of the men were at the site, 2 may have been (only found men with the same last name and first initial), and one man was at a site nearby. I’m rarely that accurate; that investigation was an amazing experience.
To give you an idea of what this post is about I will relate a personal experience. I am in my 4th year at my apartment. Ever since I moved in, my refrigerator has made these strange noises every night. It doesn’t do it in the daytime, just a night. While I don’t know exactly why it happens, I never assumed that these noises were paranormal. However, sometimes people imagine that simple noises are just that. With all the TV shows and movies that promote negative paranormal experiences, this is understandable. After all, who would watch a show that just had a simple, non-threatening haunting as its basis?
There is a tendency for people to respond in what I call “zero to demon” style in identifying what is actually going on in their homes, places of business or historic location. They may actually have paranormal activity going on, but they immediately assume it is negative. The truth is that very few hauntings are actually negative. I’m not making less of their experiences – I just want everyone to calm down and find out exactly what is actually happening.
I would like to offer a few caveats. Please don’t go out and get a recorder, or ghost box, or a Ouija Board and try to communicate with the ghost yourself. Most paranormal investigators recommend that you don’t investigate your own home, because you are too emotionally involved. Many people look for support on Facebook. Please don’t do this – it can lead to your fears being increased. There are all sorts of people online, and not all of them are psychologically well balanced.
I recommend that you find a responsible, mature paranormal group that has experience investigating haunted sites. Ask for references the same as you would ask a plumber. If they want to charge you to “exorcise” your home, they aren’t the group to work with. As one person put it, only people can be exorcised, not places. And…most teams don’t charge. They see it as a service for people in challenging situations. They also never reveal information about you or your home.
So what can you do in the meantime? Try smudging your site with white sage. This is a common herb used by Native Americans and is available online or at your local metaphysical shop as smudge sticks. If you are particularly religious, you can also ask your priest or minister for a house blessing. When something happens, make sure that you make it very clear to “them” that this is your home now, and they have to leave. It is also very helpful if you keep a log of what’s going as a reference the team you elect to invite into your home.
Summing it all up remember:
” don’t overreact,
” investigating your own home is not advised,
” be suspicious of anyone who wants to charge for their services,
” resist the temptation to seek help on Facebook, and finally,
” find a responsible, mature team that can help you understand what’s going on, and teach you how to deal with it.
Three Breathing Exercises And Techniques
Breathing Exercises: Three To Try | 4-7-8 Breath | Andrew Weil, M.D.
“Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Since breathing is something we can control and regulate, it is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind. I recommend three breathing exercises and techniques to help relax and reduce stress: The Stimulating Breath, The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise (also called the Relaxing Breath), and Breath Counting. Try each of these breathing exercises and techniques and see how they affect your stress and anxiety levels.
Breathing Exercise 1:
The Stimulating Breath (also called the Bellows Breath)
The Stimulating Breath is adapted from yogic breathing techniques. Its aim is to raise vital energy and increase alertness.
Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed but relaxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in duration, but as short as possible. This is a noisy breathing exercise.
Try for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. This produces a quick movement of the diaphragm, suggesting a bellows. Breathe normally after each cycle.
Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. Each time you practice the Stimulating Breath, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute.
If done properly, you may feel invigorated, comparable to the heightened awareness you feel after a good workout. You should feel the effort at the back of the neck, the diaphragm, the chest and the abdomen. Try this diaphragmatic breathing exercise the next time you need an energy boost and feel yourself reaching for a cup of coffee.
Breathing Exercise 2:
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
Breathing Exercise 3:
If you want to get a feel for this challenging work, try your hand at breath counting, a deceptively simple breathing technique much used in Zen practice.
Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.
To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.”
Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation.
Never count higher than “five,” and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to “eight,” “12,” even “19.”
Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation
Reviewed by Benjamin S. Gonzalez, M.D., May, 2016.
Gilberto Rides Again Chapter32 by Stephen Halpert
As he drove home from the Houndstooth campus in Brookline, Gilberto had never felt better. He liked Headmaster Ed Long, a real decent guy who put academics on an equal par with athletics. He knew from Long’s enthusiasm that the job as soccer coach was his for the asking. He also knew that in the eventual event of Atlas sinking deeper in its financial mire, he could grow into the full-time position of Coach and Athletic Director.
Though his initial coach’s salary appeared considerably less than his opulent compensation from Atlas, the sale of his Atlas stock would balance things out nicely. He felt younger and looked forward to those great expectations just around the corner.
He turned on his FM radio was greeted by ominous lyrics from the Grateful Dead:” When life looks like easy street there’s danger at the door.”
“Not today,” he said aloud and switched to a top forty station.
Back at the condo, Maria greeted him expectantly.
“I’m in if I want to be,” he said, reaching for her and kissing her. “Starting just after Labor Day, two weeks before start of school. That gives me plenty of time.”
“That’s so wonderful,” her eyes shone. “Iced tea, your favorite. Lapsang.” She handed him a tall frosted glass.
“He grinned. “Wonderful. “Can you get a sitter? Supper at the Ritz tonight to celebrate.”
“I have supper on the stove. Fish stew with crab meat, lobster, shrimp and mussels. How about a rain check until tomorrow?”
“”Sure, whatever you say.” He felt younger and even boyish. The thought of getting out on the soccer field had awakened some long-lost enthusiasm.
Mona came into the kitchen. “Hi Daddy. Your friend Bill called you up.”
“”Bill?” no bells. “Bill who? Did he give a last name?”
“That’s what I asked him,” Mona said proudly. “He said he was Bill Valclava. and to tell you he’d see you in heaven.”
A chill ran through him. Maria frowned. “”When did he call?”
Mona looked at the kitchen clock. “Maybe an hour ago. He was a little hard to understand. He had a foreign accent.”
“And exactly what did he tell you to say?” Maria said.
Mona looked flustered. “What I said. He said to tell daddy he’d see him in heaven. That was all. Then he hung up.”
Gilberto shivered. He hugged Mona. “Thank you, Mona. You did good.”
Mona grinned and went back to her room.
Gilberto opened his phone and called Rain. He reiterated Mona’s message.
“I’m on it,” her voice crisp. Several minutes passed. His phone chimed. “Picking you up,” Rain said. “On my way.”
Maria frowned. “”You’re all, right?”
He nodded. “Darn tootin’.”
“I’ll reheat the fish stew when you get back. Anything you can you tell me?”
“Would if I could.” He shrugged. “Nothing to be concerned about. We’ve got Diana Rain looking out for us.”
Maria hugged him. “Please be careful. Still want me to make that reservation at the hotel?”
She sighed. “I’ll be so glad when all this Atlas business is over.”
He hugged her. “We both will.” They kissed, and he left for the elevator.
Diana Rain was driving an innocuous black sedan. A dour faced younger male occupied the back seat. Beside him on a cushion was a laptop attached to recording equipment.
“Gilberto meet Jesse,” Rain said.
The younger man nodded but said nothing.
“Hope you don’t mind,” Rain said. “But we took the liberty of tapping your home phone. Looks like we hit pay dirt.”
He turned and glared at her. “You never told me.”
“We thought you wouldn’t mind. It’s for your own protection after all.”
“Still!” He huffed. “Where are we going?”
“Newton,” she said. “An address on Newtonville Avenue.”
Gilberto felt tension across his chest. He wanted to thrash the caller. What right did anyone have to invade the privacy of his home?”
Rain pulled off the Pike at the Newton Corner exit and proceeded to Newtonville Avenue. She parked Several blocks from their destination, turned and looked at the young agent. “Now’s your chance to win an Academic Award, Jesse. Get it all documented.”
He grinned, nodded, and hoisted a large TV camera. “Got it,” he smiled and handed two small mics to Rain and Gilberto. “Just clip them on. He put on his headphones and started turning dials.
“Someday I’d like to know more about you,” Gilberto said to Rain. “You seem secretive about who you are.”
Rain smiled. “Thanks for asking. Usually on the job I keep discussing my life to a minimum. But there’s nothing scurrilous or sinister. I’m just a country girl from New Hampshire, played Rugby and majored in political science at Colby. Soon after graduation I realized I wanted more than the traditional marital suburban lifestyle. I applied and was accepted into the foreign service.” She fell silent.
Gilberto wondered what exactly drove her.
They passed old Victorian homes that had been converted into condos, and stopped in front of a three-story white property. The front door was unlocked. Inside the foyer were a half dozen locked mailboxes above a long narrow wooden table cluttered by newspapers, magazines and junk mail.
Rain checked her phone and using an odd-looking key, unlocked the glass panel door. Inside she checked her coordinates again and indicated to Gilberto that they were taking the stairs to the second floor. She stopped at No 204`and knocked. There was no answer and no sound from inside.
Using her key again, she quietly unlocked the door. She and Gilberto entered a dimly lit hallway. To the right was an efficiency kitchen. Three glasses were in the sink close to the fridge. The burners of the stove needed cleaning.
Past the kitchen to the left was a living room. The windows needed cleaning; the shades were half drawn. Two shabby armchairs faced a ripped couch and a battered coffee table.
Gilberto wrinkled his nose at the odd smell. He looked at Rain. She shrugged and pointed to the hall.
They walked down it and looked into the bedroom. On the floor was a body lying in a pool of blood. “I recognize him,” Gilberto said. He felt his throat fill and he started to gag. He took several deep beaths and fought for control. “That’s the derelict I encountered near the Arlington Street Subway.” He pointed to the twisted blade that lay on the floor beside the body. “And that’s the knife he threatened me with.” The twisted bloody blade lay on the floor beside the corpse, his life’s blood pooling around his slashed neck.
To be continued
Kitty Kat’s Korner
Want To Bond More With Your Cat? Do This. ~mypetcandy.com
Cats can be flighty animals, and winning their affection isn’t always easy. If you want to form a better connection with your pet, new research suggests you can bond with them by blinking slowly with them.
You’ve probably had a cat looking at you sleepily with those long, heavy blinks that almost make you want to yawn. Those blinks, however, may actually be a form of communication meant to form positive bonds with you.
If you’ve spent a lot of time with cats, you’re probably already very familiar with those special blinks cats tend to give, and it probably doesn’t surprise you that cats enjoy this kind of blinking. Cat owners have long been aware of this phenomenon, but very little research has ever been done on the blink and what it truly means from the cat’s perspective.
Cats like slow blinks
According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, that slow blink is a sign of trust and comfort. When you slow blink back, you are telling them that you trust and are comfortable around your pet. Researchers don’t believe that the blink means “I love you” or is a sign of affection, but simply a sign of trust.
In order to find out how cats reacted to humans slow blinking at them ranging from strangers to their owners, the researchers set up a trial to divide the two. In the trial, a group of 21 cats from 14 households were videotaped while they watched their owner slow blink with no one else in the room.
The process was repeated again with researchers in the room, but not doing anything. Finally, the process was repeated again with a different set of 24 cats, but this time the research was the one doing the slow blink vs a neutral expression. After each expression, the researchers would then extend a hand toward the cat.
The research found that slow blinking is an effective form of communication with cats. The cats were more likely to slow blink back if their owners did it first, and in the trials with the researchers (Who were strangers) a cat was more likely to approach the extended hand of a researcher who had slow blinked first.
More research is needed
Although this study clearly showed cats respond to slow blinking, it’s not yet clear why. One theory is that when a person is slow blinking, they’re not staring hard at the cat—something cats view as aggressive.
Regardless, if you want to bond more with your pet, or even make friends with someone else’s cat, you now have a new tool in your arsenal to do so. The researchers recommend that you try it out, and suggest narrowing your eyes like you would for a smile, before slowly blinking—and then watch to see if the cat copies you.
You may be able to start a sort of conversation with the cat, simply by how you close your eyes.
Georgia Nicols Weekly Horoscope:
Sunday, December 19, 2021
This week tension between conservative Saturn and unconventional Uranus will create disputes about celebrating the holidays in a new and different way versus celebrating the holidays like you always have. Of course, the Fixed signs will resist. (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.) “No cranberry sauce with the turkey?” Fixed signs like the illusion of permanence. Meanwhile, take precautions to avoid accidents all day on Christmas Eve. Be smart. Christmas day is much better. Festive times will shine! Ditto for Boxing Day. It’s obvious our year is ending. But I like what Richard Bach said: “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished- If you’re alive it isn’t.”
Aries (March 21-April 19)
For the next four weeks, the Sun is at the very top of your chart. This symbolizes that you are being thrust into the limelight; and furthermore, this light will be flattering to you! Therefore, people will notice you more than usual, especially bosses, parents, VIPs and the police. Fortunately, you will look attractive and capable to them, even if you don’t do anything special. (Chalk it up to smoke and mirrors.) Within an advantage like this, you can make great strides in getting what you want. Talk to authority figures. Ask for what you want. Get serious about your ambitions. If you don’t take care of your wants and needs, who will?
Taurus (April 20-May 20)
You’re entering an exciting four weeks ahead! If you’re lucky, you will travel somewhere because what you really want to do is expand your horizons. You want to experience stimulating adventure, in new places while you meet new faces. Preferably, the weather is fantastic. You really need to get away! If you can’t slip off to sunny climes, then do whatever you can to have tiny vacations on the weekends. In other words, do something stimulating so you feel you’re shaking things up a bit. You will love to learn something new, perhaps a new language? A cooking course? An introduction to being a sommelier? (I’ll drink to that.)
Gemini (May 21-June 20)
This is interesting. For the next four weeks, four planets will be in the part of your chart that will increase your passion and intensity about everything. Of course, you will feel more sexually passionate; however, you will be more passionate about every aspect of your life, as well! And those around you will notice! Meanwhile, fiery Mars is opposite your sign right now. This can happen only once every two years and when it does (for about six weeks), it’s easy for you to lose it because other people seem to be so annoying. Perhaps they are. Nevertheless, think about your own peace of mind. Think about your own happiness. Anger makes everyone miserable, including you. Lighten up!
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
This week the Sun, Mercury, Venus and Pluto are directly opposite your sign. This is an indication that you will be focused on partners, spouses and your closest friends, much more than usual. In fact, the Sun is going to be there for the next four weeks. Although this polarized position makes you focus on your partnerships more than usual, it also offers you a chance to improve these partnerships because you will have more objectivity. You will more easily see what you do and how you relate to others. Obviously, this gives you a chance to learn how to do things better. (It’s humbling when we see our foibles and how we can be part of the problem.)
Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
For the next four weeks, you are seriously in work mode. Oh yeah, you’re pulling out all stops so that you can really be productive. You will accomplish a lot because first off, you’re going to get better organized. You’ll set high standards for yourself. While you’re on this kick, you will also want to improve your health as well. (Could be a challenging time of year to do this, especially with food and drink.) It all comes down to attitude, and right now your attitude is that you want to get as much done as possible, as efficiently as possible in a way that makes you feel a sense of accomplishment. You want to be proud of what you get done. (I’m impressed.)
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
Lucky you! Here we are, entering a holiday season and for your sign, four planets are urging you to party and socialize! You’re the big winner! Accept all invitations to party. Extend some invitations yourself. Enjoy the company of children in particular. You will also enjoy sports events and social diversions that are upbeat and fun. Your creative vibes will be hyped, which means you can do things that require creative talents. Admittedly, increased chaos and activity on the home front continues. Perhaps this is one reason you want to escape and enjoy fun times with others? (Sounds good to me.)
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
Everything to do with home, family and your private world will be your primary focus in the next four weeks. This makes sense because you love pleasant surroundings and you like to fuss about your home making it look as attractive as possible. Meanwhile, this is a season where many of you will be entertaining more than usual and enjoying the company of family where you live. Therefore, in the next four weeks, tackle repairs, dabble in redecorating, enjoy entertaining family and friends, including fun discussions. Mars will make you forceful in all your interactions with others. Oh yeah – you mean business!
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
The pace of your days will accelerate in the next four weeks – no question. Suddenly, you’ve got things to do, places to go and people to see! Expect to make short trips, talk to neighbours, siblings and relatives and at the same time, to also enjoy your surroundings. You will realize how much love there is in your daily world. How reassuring this is! Likewise, the recognition of this will make your own words sweet when you talk to others. Meanwhile, your cash flow is active. You’re working hard to earn money and you’re working just as hard to spend it. Jupiter will ensure happy times with family. Enjoy your good fortune.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
For various reasons (according to the different details of your lives), for the next four weeks, you will be focused more than usual on money, earnings and cash flow. One thing is certain, many of you will have bright, clever moneymaking ideas! This is not surprising because you like to think of ways to get rich. Many of you will also be spending money on beautiful things for yourself and loved ones. Fortunately, with Venus in your House of Earnings, you have the ability to attract money to you at this time. Sweet! Meanwhile, fiery Mars is in your sign making you feel pumped! Your high-energy will give you the ability to accomplish a lot. Look out, world!
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
This week the Sun moves into your sign where it will stay for the next four weeks. This is major horseshoes for you! It can happen only once a year and that time has arrived! With the Sun is in your sign, it means you will have lots of energy to do what you want to do. Furthermore, it also means that you easily attract people and favourable situations to you. It’s also your chance to recharge your batteries for the rest of year. It’s an excellent blessing! In addition to this, you also have Mercury and Venus in your sign, which means you will be busy talking and schmoozing to everyone. This is a favourable time for you. Enjoy your good fortune and share your positive vibes with others.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
At this time of year, your personal year is coming to an end; however, your new year will not yet begin for at least a month. That means you are sort of in limbo for the next four weeks. By no means is this a waste of time. Au contraire! You can use this time to do some serious navel gazing, in addition to which, you can start to make plans and set goals for your new year ahead. After all, goals keep you on track. They give you focus. They make future decision-making easier, and they give you a sense of purpose. One thing is certain, we know that you will soon be boosting your earnings, or getting richer in some way. Keep that in mind while you’re defining future goals. Ka-ching!
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
As the Sun shifts signs this week, it ushers in a new four-week interval for you when you will be very popular! Suddenly, everyone wants to see your face. Expect to be involved with younger people more than usual as well as artistic, creative types. All of these contacts might help you because meanwhile, with Mars at the top of your chart, your ambition is aroused! Therefore, all these contacts can be very helpful to you in some way. Certainly, one possibility is that they might prompt you to make future goals or adjust your expectations for yourself in the future. You are one sign that is very affected by what you expect for yourself. This is why it’s important for you to dare to dream big!
Weekly Horoscopes beginning Sunday, 19 December 2021
If you’re born within a cusp period (16 to 26 of any month); you’re advised to read horoscopes of both signs covered by that period. You’re on the border; you may have influences from houses within those signs.
Outlines are longer versions; consist of every possible detail of everyday and are based on three parts of each sign: 1st, 2nd & 3rd Decan; that is, any of three divisions of 10° within a sign of the zodiac. Even if you know or don’t know your Decan; I recommend, please read all three Decan.
Personal theme: I am!!
Fire & cardinal sign: March 21 — April 19
Your horoscope for this week:
Ordinally, you love meeting new people and exploring new ideas. However, you’ll often put off the next stage until you’re in control. However, the pace and intensity of events are drawing you into getting involved, and right away. Forget about those concerns. Plunge in. Once you do, you’ll be amazed how much fun you’re having dealing with even unfamiliar issues and, even more, discovering what’s on offer.
You want to do your bit for the community. A lot of the work involved in a group effort will rely on volunteers and charities. Something like a rethink is taking place about rules in an academic situation when it is thought that new procedures are stifling development. If you are single and feeling a little lonely, then a festive get together could provide you with a perfect opportunity to get back on the dating scene.
Who wouldn’t want the year to end with a flourish? Certainly not an Aries. With Venus appearing almost stuck in the sky for the better part of the week, you could ride a singular career wave. Make as many contacts as you can. Socially you should be at your most dynamic best and can push forward with plans for 2022. True, Venus is turning retrograde and yes, there will be many conversations that will require further attention in January but you can get the ball rolling now. The really good news is that with Mars continuing its move through Sagittarius, the sign associated with global interests and international connections, the potential for expanding your world is just so, so much increased. It’s not so hard to imagine that by Friday you will have broken free of certain bonds and restrictions.
Personal theme: I have!!
Earth & fixed sign: April 20 — May 20
Your horoscope for this week:
As an earth sign, you’re able to turn even unexpected twists and turns to everybody’s advantage. However, between the unsettling Taurus lunar eclipse, four weeks ago, and ongoing changes in once-stable circumstances, you’re uneasy. Tempting as it is to slow the pace of changes, think of times in the past when you were equally uneasy, but things turned out brilliantly. They will now, too. The secret? Patience.
Your skills are in demand and in meetings, tests and interviews you will shine. A senior colleague will give you some useful advice and you will look back on this time and be grateful for the part they played in putting you on a new career path. You might be feeling nervous about getting involved in a big social project. It may be possible to give your support from behind the scenes and this is where you will feel more comfortable.
On Friday, Saturn makes its final right angle aspect to Uranus, still passing through your sign. View this as a make-or-break moment. Note too, that as of this weekend, Venus begins a retrograde period that lasts for several weeks. Venus last made this move eight years ago: part of its natural pattern. It’s a rhythm which, during your lifetime, puts accent on acquiring expertise. Take time – especially mid-week, to consider the expertise you’ve accrued through 2021. This is likely considerable. It could also be marketed differently; and yes, there is the potential for forming a bond with someone from a very different culture to your own. They might not share your primary language. Fact is, that you are now ready to break ties that have been too restrictive. With Mars moving through fiery Sagittarius, you may also find that you have fractionally more energy than usual – most likely fuelled by this developing partnership.
Personal theme: I think!!
Air sign: May 21 — June 20
Your horoscope for this week:
Although the actual Gemini Full Moon is on Sunday, the 19th, you’ve been wrestling with the intense feelings that are part of this cycle for days. This continues during the week. While you’ll enjoy the dramas, the resulting vulnerable mood could be unsettling. The secret? Acknowledge and discuss your ups and downs, especially regarding pivotal relationships. Even more, focus on truly appreciating what you already have.
Are you single? There is a surprise in store at the office Christmas party. A working relationship could come a step closer to being a friendship or even romance. This will be with someone who is on the same rung of the ladder and if you’re working closely together this will ease a lot of the pressure you had previously felt. An older relative’s honesty will put your mind at ease about a family matter that has been worrying you.
As with every other sign, you can achieve so much this week. You though, have the benefit of Mars moving through your opposite sign. Others will no doubt propel you to the front. They want to hear your thoughts. Recall that on Sunday, Venus turned retrograde. This is part of a recurrent eight-year pattern. During your lifetime, this theme that is all about making financial connection. It may be – and especially if you’ve taken on a role in the last few months, – that it is not yet offering you what you hoped for. It will likely take a few more months to develop or, most likely, bring you yet another job offer. This week is all about making vital connections. As the Node slips out of your sign and moves on into neighbouring Taurus, anticipate that it will be those born under that sign who have special role to play. It may be that they are developing new business interests and think that you are the very person to help them do so.
Personal theme: I feel!!
Water & cardinal sign: June 21 — July 22
Your horoscope for this week:
Letting go of elements of the past when you’re unsure what’s next takes courage. However, as a Cancerian, your intuition is amazing. While you trust it, others demand proof. The secret? Distract doubters. Change the subject. This prevents you wasting time on pointless conversations. Better yet, you can finally declutter your life of familiar but restrictive activities and alliances, in preparation for those thrilling developments.
You will throw yourself into new commitments and you will get a lot of satisfaction from your hard-working efforts. If you are involved in any form of group project, a chance to meet new faces or visit places you’ve not been to before, could come your way through these activities. You’re worried about a relative who is living hand to mouth. If you feel there are benefits, they should be applying for, this might be the time to suggest they try.
You could feel as though you’re doing the last few steps toward the top of a mountain. Yes, that’s arguably true around this time of year every year, but this time there really does seem to be a difference. Think back to this time last year and how much things have changed. Your world has no doubt expanded. It will do so even more once Jupiter returns to Pisces (another of the Water signs) at the very end of the year. This week there’s so much information to take on board. Specifically, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius friends appear to be altering direction and need both your approval and support. Draining as this is at one level, you might also see that this opens up new opportunities. Central to any discussion, is likely to be the career direction of a close friend or partner. As Venus stations in your opposite sign, it may be that they’re toying with an offer they feel they really can’t refuse but would take you both into the unknown – so potentially unsettling you.
Personal theme: I will!!
Fire & fixed sign: July 23 — August 22
Your horoscope for this week:
It’s not that you’ve been putting off certain complex tasks, from tricky conversations or confusing commitments. The problem is you’ve been short of facts. Now you’ve been updated, but are still unsure what to do first. Allow your passionate Leo nature dominate; simply plunge in. Taking action this way won’t just boost your spirits, others will join in, which they’ll benefit from as much as you do.
Instead of getting into your usual routines you will be tempted to grasp an offer that appears to be far more exciting. Look before you leap. If you jump into a situation without looking you will discover there are hazards lurking in the background. A cautious approach would be better. Your life could never be boring when a certain someone is around. If you’re single, wake up to the fact there’s something more than friendship between you and another.
You could so, so, exercise your lion’s roar mid-week and demand that others recognise your need to move on. Fact is that post Sunday’s Full Moon, and after Venus reaches retrograde station – but before Saturn and Uranus reach their right angle on Friday, you could feel like a volcano ready to erupt. You need others to recognise that enough is enough. The curious thing about this is, that though you may be fuelled by anger and discontent, the lava that flows from this eruption could yet provide truly fertile land. With Jupiter moving out of your opposite sign before the end of the year, it is possible that those who have been pulling against you, will realise that it’s better to work with you. In short, although this could be super turbulent week, the outlook is not bleak.
Personal theme: I analyse!!
Earth sign: August 23 — September 22
Your horoscope for this week:
For ages you’ve been thinking about and, possibly, discussing life-changing decisions; but as a thorough Virgo, you’ve always felt certain facts were unreliable. While that’s true, further discussions will achieve nothing. You have reached the point where there’s only one possible next step, and that is to stop talking and take action. Plunge in. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
People who had promised to be at a meeting or interview might not turn up. This is doubly annoying in that they had information you needed to know. A colleague will help out when you find yourself in a dilemma and much to your surprise, they won’t expect anything in return. Your independent spirit comes to the fore. The more you do for yourself and the more you work on what you hope to achieve over the months ahead, the greater will be the respect that others show to you.
It’s said that Virgo hates chaos and muddle. Yet in order to show the methodical, organised and diligent side of your personality, you need there to be a task requiring your particular skills. It might even be said that you get some pleasure from reorganising, redistributing and generally rearranging and so attract messy situations. With Mars continuing its transit of the base of your solar chart a degree of agitation and yes, at times, irritation, could act as drivers. A strong possibility is that you’ll be left to clear up after Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius colleagues who are only now taking action that you feel should have been taken at the very start of the year. Together though, this could yet bloom into a fabulous working partnership.
Personal theme: I balance!!
Air & cardinal sign: September 23 — October 22
Your horoscope for this week:
Nobody is better at handling tricky individuals or defusing potentially troublesome matters diplomatically. However, the current planetary setup accents the need to face, define and discuss the issues in question, and to be frank about it. While, initially, this approach may run counter to your Libra nature, you’ll soon recognise how much you and, equally, others will benefit from saying exactly what’s on your mind.
Someone in the family has plans that could make it difficult to make ends meet in the future. You aren’t being unreasonable in asking them to revise their ideas. Be careful about what you say and who you say it too especially when out with friends. When you aren’t really thinking about what’s being said or who is listening, someone could catch you off guard while you’re indulging in gossip. It would be sensible too, not to listen to rumours.
Venus, your ruling planet, stationed on Sunday – and at the base of your solar chart. The last time it did this was in 2013. This is part of an eight-year cycle moving very slowly through the zodiac. Think of it as a ‘star’ point. In your lifetime, this sequence has been truly important as regards property matters and family affairs. There is much for you to think about and yes, some tough decisions to be made before Saturn and Uranus form their last right angle on Friday. Career wise there is much to be optimistic about: Mars is moving through Sagittarius, and international contacts will likely be centre stage. Don’t underestimate the power of your words. Indeed, there is the danger that you could talk yourself into trouble by Friday. Throughout 2021, many ideas have incubated. Realising these in 2022 would be satisfying. There’s high probability though, that you need to learn the fine art of delegation. Making a start on this before Friday would be wise.
Scorpio & Ophiuchus
Personal theme: I desire!!
Water & fixed signs: October 23 — November 21
Your horoscope for this week:
One of your greatest assets is your ability to handle both difficult individuals and potentially troublesome situations so deftly nobody realises there’s a problem. Now, however, not only must you acknowledge those issues, it’s vital they be discussed in detail. Initially you may dread this; but it’ll be like assembling puzzle pieces. Once everything’s clear, you’ll be as relieved, as you are thrilled, about the resulting insights.
An impulsive relative or housemate will take one too many financial risks. You aren’t surprised that this leaves them short of cash. Neither are you surprised when they turn to you for a loan. If this is becoming a habit, you might warn them this is the last time you are getting involved. A workmate will have some interesting suggestions on how to improve a work project but for now, you might prefer to leave things as they are.
No-one could ever accuse you of not being thoughtful! Yours is a sign known to review. Supersensitive as you are, you need to go back over conversations, scents and places. Memory matters. Now that Venus is retrograde, perhaps the time is right to review 2021. On Friday, Saturn and Uranus form the last of their right angles. You may remember that both have been in Fixed signs like your own, and quite probably, pulling you in different directions. Now may be crunch time. Before moving forward (which is, after all, the only option), it’s necessary to review where you’ve been and the adequacy of your support system. This should be a useful- but yes, a learning experience. Loyalties may be tested in the process. Before Friday, you could come to a major decision: one that leaves you exhausted by the process, but also excited about what is to come.
Personal theme: I see!!
Fire sign: November 22 — December 21
Your horoscope for this week:
The powerful Sagittarius eclipsed New Moon on 4 December triggered changes, some as far-reaching as they were unexpected. Understandably, you’re still rethinking your options. Being a fire sign, you prefer to devise a plan, then plunge in. However, you’re urged to take things in stages. First, focus on exploration. Lasting decisions? They’ll be shaped by what you learn now, and will be finalised early next year.
Avoid discussing anything to do with religion, spirituality, politics or money if you want an easy life. You will want gatherings to be harmonious. Someone will take a festive get together as an opportunity to push their views onto others and such subjects will only lead to arguments. It will be demands, distractions or a lack of concentration that prevents you from getting on with some important personal business. Even so this must be done. See to it in the weekend.
Mars continues its journey through your sign and you should feel energised. Like coming to the end of a race, you could be exhilarated and thrilled by Friday. The timing in a sense couldn’t be better ahead of end of year festivities. Yet with Venus stationed, and apparently moving so very slowly in neighbouring Capricorn, you might also be aware that you need to take time, take stock and be in the present where possible. An adventure may not be so far from your mind, but this time, rather than spur of the moment, require considerable planning. All this could be career-linked. As you probably know, yours is a sign associated with knowledge-seeking. Many Sagittarius are also gifted teachers. Passing on information could now be high priority. It might also be that with a close colleague career now moving in altered direction that there will be a fresh opening for you, but require, like that adventure, considerable planning.
Personal theme: I use!!
Earth & cardinal sign: December 22 — January 19
Your horoscope for this week:
Once you understand that you’re in a period of breakthroughs, many as exciting as they are unexpected, you’ll temporarily forget about careful analysis and simply plunge in. This isn’t just wise, changes are moving swiftly and far-reaching, so your only option is to learn from, and base decisions on, each day’s events. Be aware that each stage could change everything, but for the better.
A friend will let you down badly. Their excuses are at odds with other facts you happen to be aware of even though they don’t know this. Now you are fully aware of the situation and of the part they are playing in this, you will deal with the problem so it never occurs again. You’ve always taken a serious approach to work, family life and relationships. A new partnership will be built on a joint belief of sharing responsibilities as well as the good things in life.
On Sunday, Venus stationed in your sign. The last time it did this was in 2013. This is part of an eight-year pattern with the degrees involved slowly changing over the years. All eyes will likely be on you and who you are willing to work with. Remember, Venus is one of the partnering planets. Since Pluto entered your sign over a decade ago you have gained considerable experience through power challenge and acceptance of responsibility. Though it might not have always been easy to work with Taurus and Libra (both signs ruled by Venus), you might also see that there are gains to be made by working – at least in cooperation, if not in partnership. All this likely needs to be addressed before Friday. Indeed, it may be imperative to do so, so that you can take advantage of a golden opportunity that should come by the end of January.
Personal theme: I know!!
Air & fixed sign: January 20 — February 18
Your horoscope for this week:
True, your recent efforts to discuss or deal with certain tricky matters didn’t go well. However, things are better and so is the mood of those whose support you’ll need. The trick? Ask for their views on the situation and ideas regarding what’s next. They’re likely to repeat your suggestions, but believe they’ve come up with them. Obviously, you’ll say nothing, but smile quietly to yourself.
It may not be as easy as you had hoped, to sort out a financial problem. This may involve delving through drawers, cupboards and filing cabinets to try to find past receipts and invoices. Travel plans are thwarted when a trip you had been hoping to take will be fully booked. You might wish you made the booking earlier while you had the opportunity but other similar offers will come your way.
On Friday, and for the last time in 2021 your two ruling planets, Saturn and Uranus, appear at right angle to one another. No doubt throughout the year you’ve been pulled this way and that: torn between the past and the future. A decision has to be made. With Venus having stationed on Sunday, it should be easier to come to that conclusion. It might even be responsibility made for you by a Venus-ruled colleague (Taurus or Libra). Decisions they take could open up a whole world for you. Travel – or at least contact with those who live and work far away is probable. It’s often thought that Aquarius’ default position is to do things differently. The conclusions and decisions you arrive at by Friday will likely shake a few people when it becomes clear that you intend to move off in new career direction.
Personal theme: I believe!!
Water sign: February 19 — March 20
Your horoscope for this week:
Of the twelve signs, you’re the most intuitive; but ironically, you don’t always trust those feelings. Now, however, they’ll not just powerful, they’ll lead to solutions for increasingly complex issues involving the delicate egos of certain individuals and future plans. The secret? Ask for their advice, however, follow what your instincts say to do. Then, once the dust has settled, thank them for their valuable insights.
In work and social activities, keep to the side-lines. Colleagues and others involved in a group project will be determined to do things their way. Any suggestions you have about trying a different approach will lead to arguments. If you can’t get a job, you are working on to go right for you, it will be important to keep working at it. Have patience and don’t give up. You will succeed in the end. A close friend is thinking about going back to work after having been without a job for some time.
Mars, the energizer moves over the top of your solar chart. You’d expect this time of year to be super busy given the festivities: but Mars isn’t always in this position at this time. Neither is Venus always retrograde. There is every likelihood that those around you are altering directions and that you, – as sensitive as you are – are picking up on their concerns. Note too, that on Friday, and for the last time in 2021, Saturn and Uranus form a right angle. This is likely to be a decision-making week for many people and that you will experience tension as a result. Solace to this could be clearing a desk or cupboard: the tidying up process proving therapeutic!
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