Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Collective Book Haul

Books I've acquired recently, in chronological order, oldest to newest:

I purchased Australian Druidry not so much to find out more about Druidry per se, but for its Southern Hemisphere take on a nature tradition. I haven't started it yet.
The Magical Battle of Britain is a collection of letters written by well-known British magickal practitioner Dion Fortune to her followers during World War II. I ordered it after seeing it referred to at least four times in different parts of the internet in less than a week. It seemed to be a sign. I've started it but I have to confess I'm finding it rather hard-going.

Of course I had to purchase Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology when it came out. The book itself is stunning -- photos don't do justice to the golden glow of Mjollnir on the cover. I didn't expect it to be hard cover either, which was a pleasant surprise. I'm about half-way through it so far and it's very readable, with simple but elegant language.

These two books are the catalogues for the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Museum. What I wouldn't have given to visit the exhibition in person! A Journey Through the History of Magic (on the left) is designed for children, and A History of Magic for adults. I've flicked through them both and they're simply breathtaking in their own ways. Acquiring these books was a saga in itself -- the first set never arrived, though I courteously waited 3 months, and Bloomsbury very kindly sent me a replacement set. One edge of A History of Magic is a little battered unfortunately, but I don't want to push my luck. I'm just glad to have them at all.

Finally are two books by Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: The Science Delusion and Science and Spiritual Practices. I decided to purchase them after hearing Dr. Sheldrake interviewed on Rune Soup podcast. I decided to start the older book first (The Science Delusion) and am enjoying it very much so far. I've already written some notes on it which will hopefully become a blog post at some point.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Grey School Summary :: February 2018

Things were 'back to normal' this month, in that I barely had any time to work on my studies! In fact, I did work diligently on them, but I have very little to show for it so far. I started the class Eternity's Gamble: Basic Divination and am working on the first assignment, which is to keep a daily oracle of my choice for a week and document the results. Perhaps I'll write a blog post about it if it turns out to be interesting enough.

On the other hand, I did quite well in the monthly challenges, earning 10 merits towards the semi-annual House Cup awards.

Classes Completed:

Assignments Completed:

Classes In Progress:
✷ Core Energy Practices 102
✷ Basic Divination

✷ This month: 0 Total: 7

T.O.R.C.H. Award Progress:
✷ Classes completed: 3 of 4
✷ Forum Monthly Check-Ins: 1 of 2
✷ Forum Conversations Participated in: 1 of 1 (several, actually!)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Progress with Meditation

A few months ago, I wrote about my troubles with meditation. After convincing myself that I was 'no good at meditation' many years ago, I'd found myself having to do it for class assignments. I'm happy to report that after some practice, my attitude is changing and I'm improving. I've really started to notice the benefits, too.

I set a goal for myself this year to meditate 3 times a week. Whether I stick to that or not really depends on whether I need to meditate. When I was on holidays from work, I didn't meditate at all. If I'm having a stressful time, I tend to meditate more often. On some days, I even think to myself: "I can't wait until lunchtime so I can go to the library and meditate!"

Since I started meditating again, I've noticed that I'm less anxious and react in a calmer way to stressful situations. People around me have commented on the difference as well.

The meditation resource I use the most is an app called Insight Timer. It has both a timer with background noise, and many guided meditations to choose from. It's been fun finding the guided tracks that work best for me. Not all of them do. One that I tried sounded good: lying in a field and looking at the stars. However, the visualisation began while it was still light and described the sun setting. I've always found dusk to be a very depressing time of day (I don't know why, it just is) so I didn't enjoy that one very much.

Two of my favourites from the app so far are Mountain Meditation by Andy Hobson and Melting Stress and Anxiety Away by Lisa Abramson. After listening to Lisa's track for the first time during my lunchbreak, when I went back to work I was so relaxed that I kept dropping things and people remarked on how my mood had drastically changed!

I still don't think I'm very 'good' at meditation. I can only clear my mind for a few seconds at a time before I start thinking about things again. Sometimes I'll be thinking through things for a few minutes before I even realise I'm doing it. This doesn't worry me as much as it used to though. Every day and every session is different. As much as it's a cliche to say it, meditation is a practice. You will never be perfect, you just need to keep trying. Now that I'm starting to accept that, meditation is much more pleasant and I look forward to my sessions every week.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Uncle Fester's Magick by the Month Parcel : February

February heralds the end of Summer in Southern Australia. It's still hot, but there's an end in sight. Air and Fire energies mix, creating an atmosphere of excitement and creativity.

This month's parcel came with the usual information sheets for my binder, crystal, charm, herb mix and some other things. The information this month speaks of the Indigenous Australian view of the seasons, a concept I find very interesting and would like to learn more about.

There were two small sample packs of incense. This month's herb mix isn't labelled, so I wouldn't drink it as a tea, but it smells lovely and I will probably use it as a potpourri.

There were four fridge magnets with inspirational quotes. Word magick and inspiration seem to fall under the Air element.

This month's crystal (5 actually!) is red carnelian, and the charm is a bat, an Australian native Air symbol. Finally there was a candle in a jar in one of six scents, with artwork by Lisa Parker. Mine was Empowerment, with a sandalwood scent. This is something I could always do of more with in my life, and I liked the scent, so I was happy with it.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Grey School Summary :: December 2017 - January 2018

I had 3 weeks of holidays over Summer, but strangely didn't do any study during that time. I had plenty of time, but just couldn't get into the right mindset for it. It wasn't until I went back to work in the new year that I've been enthusiastic about studying again. I guess that's just the way my brain works!

I finished off my final essay for Core Energy Practices 101, discussing my experiences with the class. I'm amazed to find that I've gone from being someone who "just can't meditate", to looking forward to meditating every week!

I enrolled in Core Energy Practices 102, which covers cleansing and shielding. I've started the written component of the first assignment, but, being very busy right now, I won't be able to do the practical activity for a few weeks. I'd like to get further into this class before I enrol in any more, but that doesn't stop me from perusing the class list, trying to decide which one to do next. There are so many!

Classes Completed:
✷ Core Energy Practices 101
✷ Magickal Ettiquette

Assignments Completed:
✷ Final Essay: Your Experiences (Core Energy Practices 101)

Classes In Progress:
✷ Core Energy Practices 102

✷ This month: 3 Total: 7

T.O.R.C.H. Award Progress:
✷ Classes completed: 3 of 4
✷ Forum Monthly Check-Ins: 1 of 2
✷ Forum Conversations Participated in: 1 of 1 (more than 1!)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Grey School of Wizardry T.O.R.C.H. Award

As one of my goals for 2018, I've committed myself to earning the T.O.R.C.H. Award (Level 1). Each of the four houses in the Grey School has its own award. As a member of the Flames Lodge, I'm eligible to earn the TORCH award. I really think that this will help kickstart my studies which, I have to admit, have been languishing for a while.

So what do I have to do? Here's the list of tasks from the Grey School of Wizardry forums:

1. Completion of the class "Writing and Citing: How to Not Plagiarise".
2. Completion of at least one Level One required class.
3. Check in to the monthly Flames Lodge roll call for at least two months in a row (within the last six months)
4. Complete 4 classes within one semester and report on the appropriate forum thread.
5. Participate in at least one forum conversation within the past 3 months.
6. Take the initiation Oath for the Order of the Dancing Flames

And here's my progress on each of these requirements:

1. Completion of "Writing and Citing" class -- DONE!
2. Completion of at least one Level One required class -- DONE!
3. Check in to the monthly roll call -- I don't think I checked in for December, but I checked in for January, so half done!
4. Complete 4 classes within one semester -- I've completed 1 class this semester.
5. Participate in at least one forum conversation within the past 3 months -- not in any significant way.
6. Take the initiation Oath for the Order of the Dancing Flames -- not yet!

The most challenging requirement is completing 4 classes within one semester. Classes vary on the amount of work -- from reading the material and doing a multiple-choice test, to three or more essays and practical activities. This semester, I've completed one class, with a second almost finished, and a third just started. Semesters run from equinox to equinox, so that means I would have until 21st March if I wanted to fulfill the requirement this semester. That's just under two months away, but it doesn't seem very long to me!

At the moment, all my efforts are focussed on the annual Zine Fair, which is on the 11th February. I was unexpectedly offered a stall in the fair, and I want to take advantage of the opportunity. I also work 6 days a week, so I don't have as much time for my studies as as I'd like. Nevertheless I want to try!

Even if I'm not able to finish four classes this semester, at least I will have made some progress on them, and then I'll have 6 months once next semester rolls around to finish them. I will still have completed my goal of earning the award by the end of 2018.

At least, that's the plan!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Uncle Fester's Magick by the Month Parcel : January

Here in Australia, Summer has hit with full force, so this month's surprise parcel is all about the Fire element.

The charm for this month is a snake (though its head looks a little like a dragon!). The crystal is a mahogany obsidian. Its red and black colouring is reminiscent of fire. There are also some beautiful tealight candles in the shape of flowers. They're just too beautiful to burn, so I'll use them as decorations.

The herbal pack contains Andrographis, Gypsy Wort, Mistletoe, Passionflower and red Rose petals. The information doesn't say what the herbs should be used for, but they smell wonderful, so I would use them as a potpourri or incense. Certainly an incense would suit the fiery season!

The biggest and best gift this month was a Zen garden. I've been wanting a tabletop Zen garden for years, and suddenly one landed on my doorstep! Right now I don't have anywhere to put it, but one of my goals for this year is to create my own home working space, with a desk and places to store my stationery, etc. This surprise seems to strongly say: yes, do it!