Learning Through Books and Experience

Bookshelf - www.awitchsjourney.com

Books are wonderful tools. They open up doors of possibilities, new worlds to explore, places we’ve never been to, places we could never go to, subjects we never heard of before, etc…books are really powerful doors we can open any time and venture into. There is much to be learned from books, no doubt.

Books have their limitations of course. Although the author can take us anywhere, anytime, and show us what they saw, what they see, what they know, we are missing a very big part of learning, and that is experience.
Experience is when we truly gain. The participation, observation, of events, practical contact and the impression left in us when we experience something…there is nothing like it. Some say that true wisdom can only come from experience and sharing the wisdom earned from that experience.
A question just came to mind: But the author is sharing their personal experience with me through the book, that must count, right? I have a vivid imagination and I feel that I am living an experience through the author’s words, doesn’t that count? Of course it counts! That’s what you experienced through reading the book and it is very personal and important. However, the explanation that an author can give you through a book will never truly be your own experience. If 10 people can read the same book and interpret it differently, of course you know that the experience that you could have is never going to be the same as what you read about it in a book.

 

Where am I going with this? Well, although I do believe that we need books to learn and to supplement our learning, I personally feel that when I am within a group, the learning experience is more powerful and has a stronger impact on me. I can remember more, I can relate more, I can ask questions, I can network. Let’s not forget the amazing energy that can be felt in a group environment. Here is a good example: learning Kundalini Yoga from books and video vs. taking classes at a good yoga school. When I used a video, I enjoyed the practice, and when I read a good book on the subject, it helped me understand the details and I could go back and re-read. But it wasn’t until I started taking classes that I truly fell in love with Kundalini Yoga. Being in a class, surrounded by the energy of other people who love it as well, that is when I really felt the experience of Kundalini Yoga. Ā Same with Reiki. Some people claim that the practice of Reiki can be “learned” through books or online alone, but I strongly disagree.

 

Beyond reading great books, we must seek experience. Being able to recite pages upon pages from books we have read may be impressive, but again, nothing compares to personal, live experience, be it one on one with a teacher, or as part of a small or large group. Many people may be in a situation in which they feel they are isolated and have no access to groups or classes. I understand that, I really do because I was once in that situation. However, I made the effort to search and eventually found a few likeminded individuals to share experiences with. :) It is also helpful to remember, that we can learn from just about anyone and at any time, so don’t narrow your search too much. Think about it… šŸ˜‰

 

Love & Light

The Priestess

Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead

I wanted to do an extra post this week because the Pagan Blog Project is up to the letter ‘D’ and I feel like I kind ofĀ  cheated it hehe (see previous post).

This post is about one of my favorite books of all time, or to be more specific, my favorite translation of that book. The Egyptian funerary text, also known as the Book of Coming Forth By Day, better known as the Book of the Dead. According to many historical texts, it is a collection of spells created to help the dead in their journey through the underworld and into eternal life as a spirit. These texts are both magical and religious and there are many sources of historical documentation to read up on them. Don’t let the title mislead you, these writings are not about death, but about life, eternal life. This is what the Egyptians believed in and looked forward to. Living an eternity as a spirit, enjoying everything they loved, surrounded by the spirits of all those they loved.

The ancient Egyptians really cared a lot about the afterlife, and it showed in the construction of their tombs, which were made more elaborately and with better materials than their own homes. Their logic for this is simply that they knew this would be their eternal dwelling, while their mortal homes would be a place to live for the next 40 or so years (life expectancy back then wasn’t as high as it is now). One can imagine the comfort this would bring to a person who was getting closer to death, as opposed to the fear of death and dying which is more prevalent these days.

 

When I first wanted to learn more about the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the book I found at the library was the Wallis Budge translation. It is a great tool for learning and researching historical data. I wasn’t able to read the entire book though, I guess it wasn’t what I was looking for. I got my copy of Normandi Ellis’ Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead in 1988 which I believe is the year it was published. Since then I have read so many times that I lost count. This book was definitely what I was looking for.

Inspiring, spiritual, beautiful, rhythmic, magical, powerful. Those are some of the words that come to mind when I try to describe Normandi Ellis’ translation. When I have felt the need for wisdom, I have looked in its pages. When I have felt the need for guidance, I have looked in its pages. I have even used it when constructing a spell or when I need a good affirmation. It is a book that I keep going back to, all these years it is still relevant to me, and it still has the same spiritual and magical power.

In my opinion, Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead is giving us a window into the possibilities that the funerary texts have for us, of how these ancient texts can still be of use to us today. My copy of the book is marked up, pages flagged, and I had to put plastic on the cover to protect it from all the use it gets (see photo above, that’s my copy of the book).

One of my favorite spells excerpts that can also be used as an affirmation, is one that some of my friends already know me by. It is the following:

“Let my spirit be stronger today than it was yesterday, my heart more peaceful, my mind more fertile, my hands more gentle.” This is only part of Chapter 5: Coming Forth By Day. These words have given me strength on many days when I’ve felt I am lacking it. I have shared these words with others many times and I’ve always heard that they find them very comforting and empowering, regardless of religion.

Chapter 8: Triumph Over Darkness is such a powerful spell, with many words that can be used for protection. One example: ” May my fingernails turn into thorns to drive back the snake. May my arms become spears to thwart crocodiles. May the light of my soul detect shadows of evil. May I listen to the voice of the messenger. May I walk the road envisioned by Ra’s eyes.” When I read these words I can feel their power and confidence.

 

I imagine that in ancient Egypt, having an instructional text such as this would bring a feeling of security to a person who is going through preparations for the afterlife (construction of their tomb and such).

There is so much relevant, powerful and insightful wisdom in this translation that I think this will be a book I will keep going back to for many more years. And I thank Normandi Ellis for this wonderful work. :)

 

Love and Blessings
Oscura

 

Sources: Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead by Normandi Ellis , Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, translated by Raymond O. Faulkner, http://en.wikipedia.org/

Finding out what my dream was about 4 years later

Four years ago, I had a very strange dream that involved dead bodies resting up on a tree. Here is an excerpt of my dream: “They were launching the bodies across the sky with a catapult. They landed on a tree across the water. I was one of them. When I landed on the tree I woke up and I asked one of the others why….she said that they exiled us because to them, we were too different, and evil. To us it was just because we were special and they did not understand us…”

The featured image below on this post is something I created a few months after my dream, to try to illustrate what I saw in my dream. The bodies were wrapped and rested on the tree branches.

I wasn’t sure what the dream meant so, I simply wrote it down. I only thought of it as being a vry odd dream so I didn’t do anything else about it. Today, on my way home from work, I read the following:

“Several centuries ago, when travelers returned from the Caucasus Mountains and reported having seen dead bodies carefully laid in tree branches, they were describing a tradition that was already venerable when the kings of ancient Colchis – keepers of the Golden Fleece – ruled the area. Deliberate exposure is perhaps humankind’s oldest way of disposing of cadavers.”

It is such an odd realization to find out 4 years later, that I dreamed about an ancient burial ritual that I had no idea existed. And yet, even American Indians practiced Tree-burial. The book that I was reading btw, is Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend by Mark Collins Jenkins. From all I’ve read about the way we humans handleĀ  the dead, we haven’t been very respectful or grateful to them, at least not throughout most of our history. As I read all these stories of different ways people used to abuse and destroy the dead (due to the fear of them coming back and doing terrible things), I can’t help but wonder what the other side of the story is: How do the dead feel about it? And then I remember my dream, when the dead woman on the tree said to me that people think they are evil, so they exile them but they are simply special and misunderstood….

 

'Exiled' artwork by Oscura

'Exiled' artwork by Oscura

 

 

 

Dressing with intention

I was recently introduced to something I never thought of before, called Fashion Feng Shui, through one of my meet up groups. I’m very interested in Feng Shui and this sounded like it would be fun, so I attended an event to learn more about this subject.

If you’ve never heard of the term Feng Shui, here is some basic info. According to the International Feng Shui Guild it is “the interplay between the seen (our surroundings) and the unseen (energy and intention)”. From a dictionary, we get the following: (in Chinese thought) a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi) and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting or designing buildings.

Ok, so we work with the space we live and/or work in to bring the harmony that is needed between us, the space, the objects that occupy it and the energy that flows through it. I am not a certified Feng Shui consultant, at least not yet. But, I have used the information I’ve learned so far about it in my apartment and so far I’ve Ā gotten good results. So, why not apply this to our own wardrobe?

At this event I attended the presenter gave everyone a copy of the book Fashion Feng Shui: The Power of Dressing with Intention, written by Evana Maggiore. The idea is that clothing is your body’s most intimate environment and, therefore, energetically influences your life in the same way that your home and business decors do. The author also concludes that there is a pattern of alignment between body coloring and shape, style personality, lifestyle, goals and clothing design with the colors, shapes, substances and energies of Feng Shui’s Five Elements. It is fascinating!

There are 5 elements of nature in Feng Shui. Those are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. Evana Maggiore then proposes 5 elemental archetypes: Water the philosopher; Wood the pioneer; Fire the pleasure seeker; Earth the peacemaker, and Metal the perfectionist. To learn more about these elemental archetypes and to take a quiz to find out which one are you, you can visit her website here. When I read the detailed descriptions of all these archetypes, I identified strongly with Water the philosopher. Highly sensitive, independent, creative, usually quiet and self-contained are some of the characteristics of this archetype. By learning more about this archetype which is my essence, I can make better decisions about what clothing to buy and wear, and I can use the knowledge of all the elemental archetypes to direct my intentions and energy into whatever purpose I need it for. This as opposed to being constantly frustrated with “not having anything to wear” despite having a closet full of clothing, or buying clothes without much purpose other than that I liked it when I saw it at the store or I think it’s cute or it’s what I should be wearing. That’s how one can accumulate many pieces of clothing that then one never wears.

To me knowing what my elemental archetype and essence is feels like opening my eyes to seeing a part of myself that I was neglecting. It’s like discovering a tool that you’ve always had and never used, taking off all the cobwebs and dust and realizing you had a powerful tool all along. :)

The first thing I did was empty out my closet completely and look at everything. I got rid of several items that, I had been keeping for various reasons that were totally wrong. For example a blouse that I bought because it was very pretty, even though I didn’t like the color much. It was also very uncomfortable to wear, so I had only worn it about 3 times in 2 years. No point in keeping that, so it goes to clothing donations.

On a day when I am wearing something that makes me feel comfortable, elegant, creative and beautiful, I feel unstoppable! On a day when I am wearing something that feels uncomfortable, and I am fuzzing with it all day long, feeling self-conscious and frustrated with it, this can ruin my entire day because I keep going back to the fact that I don’t feel comfortable with what I am wearing. It really makes a huge difference when I am dressed in harmony with who I am and with my energy. It also does make a huge difference in how people react to me.

Does this subject interest you? I find it fun and fascinating! And it also does make a difference. If you would like to learn more, I suggest the following sources:

Fashion Feng Shui: The Power of Dressing with Intention, written by Evana Maggiore (book)
Fashion Feng Shui (website)

Five Elements of Feng Shui

5 Elements image by Nigaya/Oscura

The Journey of a Snake Priestess

I just finished reading this amazing book and wanted to recommend it to everyone.

In ā€˜Dancing The Inner Serpent: Memoirs of a suburban Snake Priestessā€™, Leā€™ema Kathleen Graham shares a powerful account of her journey through this lifetime as a daughter, sacred dancer, lover, mother, priestess and teacher. Her work with the many aspects of The Goddess is truly an inspiration for women of every spiritual path. As a student in the Priestess path I feel blessed that such an extraordinary woman and Priestess as Leā€™ema has shared her experiences and wisdom with us. This is the kind of inspiration that keeps me moving forward and I am thankful to Leā€™ema and The Goddess.

Here is a link to Le’emas website, for more information on her wonderful book: http://www.goddesswork.com/memoir-book

Le'ema

Blessings
Oscura

Discovering Feng Shui

Dictionary definition:
Feng Shui: The Chinese art or practice of positioning objects, especially graves, buildings, and furniture, based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects.

For years I have admired Feng Shui and felt it is such a fascinating practice, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I finally decided to read my first book on the art. I chose a book that had good reviews and seemed like a straightforward introduction that I could put to practice as soon as possible. I read the book pretty fast; it was so fascinating to me that I just couldn’t put it down. As soon as I finished reading it, I decided to start using the information I had just learned from it.

It was quite simple really, using objects I already had, plus a few extras that were easy to find, I began to apply Feng Shui to my apartment. Colors and materials representing the elements plus location relative to the flow of energy. That’s what it’s all about.

Energy is all around us and inside us. When the energy flow within our bodies gets stuck or “soiled”, we feel the effects. We may become tired and ill. Our thoughts may become clouded, and our ability to focus may be compromised. Everything depends on energy. It is life.

The same goes for spaces: living space, business space, worship space. The energy must flow properly, in harmony and balance so that our lives within these walls reflect that harmony and balance. Look around your home. Clutter, dirt, dead plants, broken objects, things that don’t work – all these are part of the major offenders in the energy flow. Once you create the right flow, not only will your space feel better, but you will feel better too, and it will all have a positive effect in your life. :)

The first time I started using Feng Shui in my home, I had been on a long job search that got me lots of good interviews but no job. Literally the next day after I balanced the energy flow of my apartment, specially the career area and the travel and helpful people area, I got a phone call and a job offer within days.

You don’t have to be a professional Feng Shui consultant to be able to take advantage of this ancient art and bring balance and harmony into your own space. You can start learning anytime! It’s a lot of fun and once you start feeling the positive effects, you will be so happy you decided to try it. :)

I recommend: Move your Stuff, Change your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect and Happiness by Karen Rauch Carter
Move your Stuff Change your Life

Blessings,
Oscura