Category: Antara - The Witches Table
 
Back in part 1 I talked about my growing realisation that I could really direct my Spiritual Growth in exactly the same way I would plan my career or run a business.  Which is not to say I want to take the mystery away...absolutely not!

I just want to organise myself in such an effective way that the mystery can flow more easily.

At first this whole process seemed so huge and full of possibilities I couldn't get a grip on it.  But after some thinking and processing and writing Lots of Lists I came up with a Plan:

1. Goal Setting

First I needed to work out what I want for my spiritual life.  The options are endless but I want to make sure my goal is something I can really visualise and do something concrete about.

I would like to achieve a full integration of my Life into one seamless, authentic, abundant and Spiritual whole.

To me a goal is something I want to achieve based on who I currently am.  Which is why I think you need to periodically review your goals and check they are still Your goals. I expect around December time I'll review my goal and see if it is still for me.

2.  Strategy

I love strategy!  It sounds terrifying but actually very very simple.  Strategy is just a plan for making your goal happen.  A Spiritual Strategy is making your goal happen in a way which is spiritually fulfilling and mindful.

Looking over my goal I realised my main problem with integrated living is twofold: 

One... I deliberately turn off my spiritual side when I go into the office - logic and rationality are required, joy and glittery fun are a hindrance.

Two... I don't value my office life as much as I should because I have conspired to suck all the shiny, fun and spiritual stuff out of it. 

I think that an integrated life would really flow more easily without these two obstacles.

Both of these things are within my power to change.  What is my strategy for changing them? I decided that my plan for making these changes must have several attributes:

a) action steps
b) be within my power to carry out
c) be clear and achievable
d) translated into my day to day reality.

SARK has this awesome concept of micromovements to get you started on things.  If you want to knit a jumper but can't get started just go and pick up the needles and find the yarn.  After that things just flow.  I am taking the same approach of small steps, easily managed here.

So I came up with this set of actions:

3. Resources

I checked in with myself...Do I have everything I need to achieve what is on my list? 

In this case I do, but I might have wanted some more information or education, support from a friend, a special tarot deck etc.

If so I would have made a list of resources and where I could get them from (but then I *really* love lists!)

4. Checking In.

I can write all the pretty plans I like but if I don't review how I am doing then they will never really happen.  Life will always keep getting in the way.  So lastly I put together a quick, daily/weekly type check-in sheet and diarised weekly time to spend really thinking about my plan and how it is going.

The beauty of this is that I can make my planning sheets completely tailored to fit my life, my dreams and what gets me creatively inspired.
I expect I will go through all the steps again and again and for all sorts of different projects and plans and ideas.  I love the fact that even though I am writing a plan like this it actually increases the amount of time I will spent connecting with the Divine and listening to myself.

I know this is all achingly, simply stuff and some of my learning goes into far more detail and levels of complication.  But I find that simple tools are often the best to start chipping away at your ingrained habits, in the past when I have tried to insist on a regime of 1 hour of meditation and 1 hour of yoga a day I have never maintained it. 

The reason I failed was because the change was too drastic, it didn't suit my life and it wasn't really what I needed to do to achieve the goals I hadn't realised I held. 

Baby steps where I track my progress on brightly coloured worksheets?  That I can work into my life and I'll enjoy it too!

This is an ongoing process for me so I shall be posting back with my results, how my reviewing went and the next set of steps I need to take.

I would love to hear about how others are handling their own spiritual development so drop me a comment below!   
 
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Something about rolling stones and moss.
The last year of my Spiritual Life has been all about integrating. 

I am not there yet but the distinct parts of myself (especially the work and spiritual sides) are moving closer into alignment.  During this process I have also been doing a course of business related study.  In my "old life" this would have been kept strictly compartmentalised but now I just keeping seeing how these techniques apply to Spiritual growth just as much as Profit growth.

In fact, I have been becoming more and more interested in supercharging my Spiritual growth instead of sitting back and letting it happen. 

Now, I am not saying you shouldn't listen to the Universe/Gods/Goddesses/your own Inner Wisdom.  Rather I am saying that we can take charge of how much spiritual development we do, we can direct it, and *make* the time to Listen to the Universe.  In fact waiting around and hoping spiritual enlightenment "happens" is probably the best way to make sure it doesn't. 

I am coming to the conclusion that I need a Spiritual Strategy and a way of keeping myself accountable to that plan.

Like many others I have often found myself distracted by shiny new tools, techniques and spiritual ideas.  For the avid Seeker the abundance of Yoga, meditation techniques, crystals, schools of magic, deities, tarot sets, runes, dowsing, astrology etc can be exciting and overwhelming.  Too often I have found myself unable to master one thing because I got excited by something else...and importantly...I had no means of judging what shiny thing served me best at the time. 

The idea of a Spiritual Strategy which I can use to help me choose between the millions of cool spiritual ideas out there is immensely empowering.

At first this whole process seemed so huge and full of possibilities I couldn't get a grip on it.  But after some thinking and processing and writing Lots of Lists.  I formed an Action Plan...  which is coming up in part 2.
 
_Usually Imbolc is one of those festivals which leaves me a bit meh!

It comes in the depths of Winter and whilst intellectually I know that this is the festival to celebrate the first, imperceptible stirrings
of Spring, in my heart it feels like darkest Winter.  Unlike Solstice
which gets caught up in the general festivities of Christmas the rest
of the world is not celebrating with me and it feels iron and cold.
This year Imbolc has been different, I have been thinking about it
differently and feeling differently even though the iron cold is here
as Siberian winds are chilling the whole of the UK.

This year when my working group started to talk about Imbolc, instead of going with the flow I really started to engage.  It was like my brain had tripped into a gear that it previously hadn't worked with before. I could feel the idea of Imbolc starting to form in my mind from that point on, at work, on the train, on my long walks I was aware of something burning away and it was Imbolc.

When I feel so very moved to celebrate a festival then I like to spin
it out over several events.  Yule/Christmas is perhaps the best
example of this, putting up a tree, feasting on both the 21st and
25th, attending solstice ceremonies and of course lots of kissing
under the mistletoe.  Easy to do when the Western world is celebrating at the same time. This creates a sort of carnival of festivities and provides many opportunities for me to connect with the spirituality behind the season.  Festivals where I rock up to one single religious ceremony for a couple of hours just don't do it for me in the same way.  Because Imbolc is so moving me  and so I am trying a new way of celebrating the year as a continuing wheel rather than as single points of light and with a strike of inspiration I though how much this has to do with Immanence.

Immanence is the concept that the divine is in the material world,
rather than Transcendence where the divine exists outside the physical .

By bringing much more of Imbolc into my life and having it glowing
away in the back of my mind as I go about my daily business I am
bringing my spiritual and the physical closer together. There are so
many great Pagan books which give you sample rituals and ideas for
celebration but very few which explicitly state that whilst we have
a special day for each festival, the week before and week after can also have a similar resonance which we can attune to.  

So my Imbolc celebrations this year started around the beginning of January when my working group first discussed the festival, on the 29th January I took a mini-spiritual retreat at home alone for the afternoon and this included setting up my Imbolc altar, making offerings of milk and mead and offering up prayers to Bridgit. I read and enjoyed many blog posts, poetry and songs about Imbolc and Bridgit, posted on the web. January the 31st I attended an Imbolc celebration with my working group and on 2nd February itself I ate a special meal of lamb casserole and baked custard, quiet by candlelight in honour of the season…and of course as the dust settles on Imbolc I am rounding it up by posting my own blog entry. 

How amazing would it be to keep this going for a full cycle, to be constantly celebrating the wheel of the year not as special events to look forward to as a break from daily life but as a way of living a fully spiritual and enchanted Life every day.
 
As part of my Imbolc celebrations this year (big post on that coming soon!) I sat down with my festive meal and thought about asking Bridgit to fill my heart with inspiration for the coming year.

As I was sitting thinking about this I had my own flash of inspiration:  "Antara, don't be asking Bridgit for inspiration without having a plan for finding it yourself."  The essence of this thought being, I should draw up my own plan for getting lots of inspiration and then ask Bridgit to top me up. In this way I was making my own commitment to getting inspiration before asking Bridgit to bestow it on me - showing Her that I was indeed serious about it and ensuring I had also made that commitment to myself.

I think it is likely that having made this commitment to get inspiration then it will come to me - because I'll be open to it and sub-consciously seeking it out!

So over Imbolc I completed a list of 5 things I can do to keep the inspiration fire burning brightly.

What can I do to keep the Fire of Inspiration Burning inside me?

1. I will read and listen and watch films, go for walks, dance and play and immerse myself in inspiring things created by others.  I will live a life suffused with the creativity of others and appreciate it.  Plays, poetry, books, blogs, ideas, films, art and nature - if I live in
these I will always have an inspirational fire.  SARK speaks and
writes eloquently about how living surrounded by books and other
people's art and creativity has kept her well of inspiration overflowing for years and I love that idea, that inspirations in others feeds the inspiration in us.  Inspiration is not a zero-sum game people!

2. I will write and continue to publish my words.  I trust that the
more I use my inspired creativity the more I will get.  Inspiration
and Creativity are renewable resources!

3. I will acknowledge and seek out people who inspire me and soak up their lessons.  When I find inspiring people, I will tell them they
inspire me, to inspire them to keep doing what they are doing!

4. I will schedule in time to switch off, laptops, phones, television,
music and just listen to the quiet voices within.

5. I will offer up my own creative works to Bridgit in honour of Her
and in return ask for Her Fire to help me create more and more things.
 
I have had a meditation sitting on my computer for a long time (about 3 years) and I have been meaning to give it a quick tweak and publish it for ages.  Well tonight with a little bit of an Imbolc push and some help from Bridgit's inspirational fire, it is done.

Meditation on the Source

I have put it up in the free resources section.  At this stage it is only a transcript - one day I hope to record it with my plummy Brit accent.
 
_I have been thinking long and hard recently about recommending
Pagan/Magickal/Spiritual reading material.  This has been partly
sparked by my Pagan Book Club - over the two years it has been running we have read more than our fair share of rubbish.  But it is
also informed by an interesting exchange on email with a friend.  I
was explaining how much I was getting into a particular book when they responded with "would you recommend it?" This brought me up a little short because I wasn't sure I would recommend it, not because I didn’t like the book (it was amazing and I am about to reread it), it was well written, contained a great deal of useful, practical information and was very inspiring.  But part of the reason I found it so good was because it came at the right time for me to read right now.  Some of the ideas dovetail and extend ideas of my own I have been developing - would it be quite so "right" for someone else right now.  Well honestly I have no idea.

But if we take this line of thinking to its natural conclusion then I
would never recommend any spiritual books and I do believe word of mouth is necessary to sort the pearls from the dross. There are a lot of Pagan and Spiritual books out there which I judge and judge harshly.  However, any recommendation I make has to contain the caveat from now on... that the book was meaningful to me at a particular time in my life, I hope this is the right time for you to read it but it may not be.
 
_Early in my path I was more heavily influenced by Wicca than I am
today.  It was by far the most accessible and easiest route to
Paganism and Magick and many of the first Pagans I met were also
influenced by Wicca.  This meant that my first brush with polarity
(besides "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow") was a binary
gender polarity - the male and female in perfect harmony, Goddess and Consort itself a definite heterosexual relationship.   The idea of
codifying socially constructed gender ideas into a religious and
Magickal system was and is highly unappealing to me.  Later I
came to see how exclusionary it was for GBLT Pagans whose relationships and live experiences were ignored and marginalised by the traditional God and Goddess coupling.  So I pretty much left polarity alone - I ceased calling both God and Goddess into the circle unless I had a specific reason to; the world did not end and my Deities didn't seem to care much.

So I was incredibly intrigued to see that the first part of Fiat Lux
(T.Thorn Coyle's online mystery school) was all about Polarity.  The
first installment went up in October but I have only just finished it;
it did not disappoint.  I have written before about how impressive
T.Thorn Coyle was speaking at Treadwells last year and I have read a previous article here by T.Thorn Coyle on gender and so I knew I would be getting something far more interesting than just *male and female energy*. Fiat Lux did not disappoint!

The working for the month was about uncovering the polarities in our own lives, framed very much in  terms of our own experience - I
naturally chose the push and pull between Driving Stress and Complete Relaxation, two poles I am buffeted between regularly. The starting point is learning to sit between the poles and simply be.  Sounds simple, but if it was so simple I wouldn't have spent so much of my life desperately seeking relaxation and lurching off after stress.  I would imagine that most people have a polarity struggle in their lives of some sort in their lives and it is really valuable to pause and think about how much it might be affecting, consuming or interfering with you achieving your dreams.

I am currently working and dreaming towards a more integrated Magickal Life. Achieving a state where I am at peace with both these forces and being able to stand in the space between them would be hugely liberating and, for the split second I achieved it in the Fiat Lux practice, it was immense. Standing tall in the middle and holding the space between felt almost overwhelmingly powerful and empowering.  Strong stuff I can tell you.

It threw up a reminder of one more thing.  A few years ago I was struggling with learning to drive and did some work on this both with hypnotherapy and the Chariot Tarot card.  Fiat Lux has reminded me of the polarity in the Chariot and I think I might need to go and take another look at it.  Clearly the Chariot is not done with me yet!
 
The 3rd edition of the Gaian Times is now published and I have another controversial article on Team Building for Pagans.
 
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The adventure starts here!
What an interesting place this is on the cusp of 2012.  Firstly, I love this time of year, there is so much energy around as everyone is feeling they have a fresh start.  The internet is full of lists, declarations of hopes and dreams and resolutions - there is an inspiration in the air which is infectious and intoxicating. 

But this is also 2012 - the year which has been the source of speculation, rumour and mystery for a very long time indeed.  There have been so many books, films and conspiracy theories that there is a different sort of anticipation this year and a lot of people are just waiting to see what will happen.

My own take is that this is an exciting time and we are moving into uncharted territory.  I intend to jump in tongue first and make sure that this year is an amazing year for the whole planet. I am starting right now. 

I have been working through the fantastic Goddess Workbook 2012 from Goddess Leonie, recognising what I achieved in 2011 and making plans for 2012. 

So 2012 is going to be the year that:

1. I learn to manage my stress completely;
2. I take my creativity to the next level and remake it as a way to financial independence;
3. I integrate my spirituality even more closely into my life;
4. I finish my Masters; and
5. I build a sacred mind temple.

Because I believe that time isn't something that happens to you, it is a resource for you to spend, I am going to make 2012 something very special.

The 3 words summing up the 2012 I am going to make are:

Mindfulness
Healthy
Integrated

How are you planning on crafting your 2012?
 
I hope you all had a wonderful Samhain yesterday. 

I had a beautiful low key evening with Amalthea and the veil was certainly stretched out thin last night.  There was definitely magic and Witches abroad.