Monthly Archives: March 2014

How to do Tonglen Meditation – a Beginner’s Guide

You do not need to be Buddhist or belong to any tradition to do this sort of meditation. It is a way to help yourself, people you love, and the numberless sentient beings at the same time.

Cauldrons and Cupcakes

Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” 
~ Charles Dickens

At times it is easy to feel small and insignificant – unable to help when all we feel in our hearts is an urge to try. When those we know are suffering, or when there is a catastrophe in another part of the world we might wonder what can be done.

There is something we can do. Meditate!

I first started practicing this meditation as a small girl – maybe three or four years of age.  No one taught me.  I just seemed to know what to do.  My baby sister was fidgeting and restless one night, tossing and turning in the bed beside mine as her teeth came through. I breathed in her fever and distress with every in-breath, and with every out-breath I imagined my breath covering her…

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Commentary on this post on tumblr.

My rapid decline in health after I was forced to move continues to worry me. I was already, most people would have said, somewhere in the Jar Jar Binks infinite loop region of a life lacking in quality or tolerability. But I have collapsed into areas I do not know how to label or define. My pain scale has moved into heights no one is buying.

“A seven is a profoundly good day, lately.”

“What’s equivalent to a seven?”

“When I had severely broken a bone and wasn’t given any medicine for it.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

What was once my idea of ten — 24 hours after the bone surgery to repair the break, which involved inserting six screws and cramming the bone back under muscle and tissue, when they had not given me any medicine for ten hours — is now residing around 8.5.

Right now, how do I feel? 9? 10? 11? Do numbers have any use, now? Do they make sense? If they’ve crossed into complete disbelief, what reason is there to try to accurately label my suffering?

try to imagine ‘the worst pain I can imagine’ so I can reset 10 to something I can point at with any lucidity. “Amputation of limb via dull hand saw without anaesthesia” is my current best guess.

I was speaking to someone recently, a chemical engineer, who was enraged about the complete lack of safety protections or measures for people who work in food service and handle large amounts of boiling water. I’d mentioned how often we all had gotten burned at work, and how very severe one person’s burns were (she would not remove her soaked clothing in the back room in private, and ended up allowing her skin to ‘cook’ for a lengthy period of time, which made it even worse than the water itself was). He was so angry about the commonality of serious and severe burns people get.

I thought about the day when I burned the entire back of my hand and between all of my fingers and silently put my hand under the tap for a couple of minutes until I was certain my skin was tepid, dabbed some aloe on it, and went back to work without anyone knowing what had happened. Later, I had to confess to it because I was having a difficult time unboxing individual cast iron teapots and rearranging the storage for them because my left hand was basically useless, and had to ask a coworker if I could trade them for what they were doing.

That burn? I suppose that’s a 3, by my current notions and using the descriptions in this image along with the other usual rating indicators. It was interfering with some tasks, but I could ignore the pain enough to do almost everything. Would that be a 3 to a normal, healthy person? Pouring boiling water over the back of their hand?

It seems my low end things, which typically are never worth mentioning, have been relatively static (judging solely by those physical responses, not what I would’ve said the number was back then, which probably would’ve been ratcheted up to 7), and I’m not sure if my sensitivity to pain has changed much — rather, I think my knowledge of pain has become extremely broad and filled with minute distinctions. I could probably work with numbers like 8.015, if I really wanted to.

3 is, however, functionally painless for me, now. My day to day chronic level used to be 4-5. At a 3, I was feeling pretty good. Then it went up to 5-6, then 6-7, then 7-8, and now 8-9.

I’d planned on doing the obvious pair of Fs this week and next: Freyr and Freya. Talking about how things have evolved and how they currently are, my life elsewhere, etc, and to talk about how she is starting to become a presence in my life after staying away almost entirely for the first year of our relationship.

I have no words for today. The widely varied agonies, including brand new TMJ pain that was so severe that I had serious trouble chewing anything and the joint is very swollen, the ongoing searing nerve pain, the three muscle spasms scattered around my body, the migraine, etc and so forth. I can write a list. Which is meaningless, really.

A blur of muddy red-black suffering with moments of shocking too-bright white, flinching, the glare searing through.

Plug a night light in
Leave the porch light on
Because the small dark corners have designs on me

Plug a night light in
Leave the porch light on
Because the small dark corners are establishing a colony

Plug a night light in
Leave the porch light on
Because the small dark corners breathe like heavy animals

Being a Spirit Worker is Like Running a Day Care

Brand experiences this terribly. His sister, particularly. He opened his birthday present last summer and as soon as he laid eyes on it, she declared, out of nowhere, MINE. The same has happened with various other things, and there are things bookmarked on etsy that gods help him if he doesn’t acquire for her.

The Twisted Rope

Alternate title: Once you are claimed by a spirit, you will never own anything again.

If there is something to be said about a large portion of god-touched folks, astral travelers and spirit workers in the polytheism/pagan community, it’s that we have a knack for having a lot of stuff in our practices. Statuary, jewelry, doodads and bobbles, you name it- we’ve got it. I’m sure a lot of it stems from the notion that we have a bit of Magpie Syndrome: it’s shiny, so I want it. But you know who has an even bigger affinity for being a Magpie?

Deities and other Unseen entities.

I mean, I guess it makes sense. Egyptian gods, at least, used to have all sorts of things offered to them daily: bread, exotic flowers and perfumes, prisoners, the best cuts of meat and lots and lots of shiny gold and silver. But…

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Pagan Blog Project – Eir

I have never had my choice of gods and goddesses to pick and choose from, deciding which I would like to work with or under and which I am not that interested in creating a relationship with. If any of them wished me any ill, likely they would’ve been prevented from reaching the stage where they show up in my life and nudge at my mind all of the time. I do have my protectors (gods, themselves).

Not all that long after we were married, I had what felt like a barrage of new people showing up in my peripheries. Because I was so busy with being evicted for being disabled and having a stint of homelessness, then being hit very hard by my CFS/ME and fibro, I didn’t follow up on any of it, much. For the most part, they were content to sit on the sides and occasionally buzz through my mind to ensure I hadn’t forgotten them.

One of them was Eir. Some people seem to say she prefers to only work with or to train women. There’s precious little I can do about that — I am not a woman. But she has been insistent, and along with her, though farther into the peripheries, Menglöð.

This past month, we were able to replenish a little of of the herbs and oils needed to do much useful work. It will take a while to build up, and to perfect blends. I missed the delivery today because I didn’t realize it needed a signature, so I will have to get it on Monday. Pity; it would’ve been nice to try some trancework or meditation with some of the oils.

As such, Eir surged to the forefront. Wanting to know what happened to my books on herbalism, I should fetch them immediately, I should get to work on learning all of the things that went stagnant in my brain and stuffing more information into it. I should bend my finances toward all of this work. Because we are all sick, and we do not need to be this sick. There are a number of herbal things that will help. And I should do this and that, I should make dream sachets to sleep better, I should find the right stones for my issues and keep them close to my skin, I should, in short, get my shit together immediately and get to work.

In addition to this, the land spirits gave me an idea on how I can make something to better connect with the land when I am indoors: they suggested I take some of the gravel beside the house, which is currently buried under a lot of snow, unfortunately, and some of the twigs from the trees, and various other things, and keep it in one of the boxes I have to use as a focus. I should also buy or make bindrune staves for the corners of the property. Protecting and healing this area of land is my responsibility, and it overwhelms me more than a little.

I need to sort through my time carefully, so that I am not neglecting anyone.

I feel like I’m flailing, a little. Wondering what I am and what I am going to be. It doesn’t really surprise me that my marriage is not some sort of All Important thing — not the One Thing I Do. I don’t think that was why he married me. He saw something in me, though I don’t know what, and wanted it. Wanted to hold it in his hands and make it grow.