Saturday, 30 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 11

Pencil sketch of Kali
After letting my breakfast settle, I went up, called my circle, said my affirmations, and practised yoga for 32 minutes.  I threw in some traditional 12 part sun salutes, as my thighs felt quite tight after yesterday, and crescent is a nice leg stretch.  I also put in some tree poses for balance, and some seated and supine poses.  Then, I chanted out loud.

For some reason, my mind felt very busy this morning, perhaps because I was determined to get my acrylics out today.  Also, I'd just watched a couple of painting tutorials.  I also thought about a comment Ellen made a little while back about drawing or painting in a journal, so she can't just throw things out.  It's funny, I think my feelings are the opposite.  I see a journal as being just for myself, and have one where I have some very rough pages - just experimenting with colours or pencil strokes or the play of light and shadow.  Whereas, painting or drawing on a loose piece of paper feels more scary, as that could actually be displayed on my altar, rather than hidden away in the closed pages of a journal.  Isn't it strange how our minds play with us in this way.

So, I tried to remember that I am doing this painting for fun, and that dedicating it to Kali is about facing my fears about the crapness of my artistic ability, and about doing something new.  It's also about focusing on Kali and her energy while I am creating the image, rather than about the actual outcome/painting.  I got out my acrylics, and chanted Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha while I painted.  That image is going to need rather a few more layers and colours, so I'll not show it yet.  However, here is the pencil image I started on Thursday.  Should have used cartridge paper instead of watercolour, I think, and I really need to work on the subtleties of shading (soft core pencils would probably be better).  Still, it is what it is...

Friday, 29 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 10

Last night, my DH was out, so I took the time to do a little reading asking what I needed to know about this sadhana to Kali:

The cards are from the Isis Marseille, created by Tadahiro Onuma and based on the 1760 Conver tarot deck.  I decided, as I was using an old-fashioned deck, to go with a no-layout spread.

Ha, Alison of This Game of Thrones would love this reading: 3 Court cards!  So, what do they say to me about this Kali sadhana?  The Knight of Pentacles reminds me that this is a 21-day "disciplined and dedicated practice".  It will take a bit of stick-to-it-ness.  The Page of Cups says that it is also a way of exploring emotions, particularly fears.  After all, the Page, as opposed to the Queen, isn't really very aware of his emotions yet, nor able to deal with them, so he represents especially emotions we aren't as used to dealing with.  And the Knight of Swords is all charging in with sword swinging, good for slaying those demons of destructive habits.  In that sense, these cards represent well what I hope for from this practice.

Looking at their positioning, the Knight of Pentacles rides calmly towards the other two, and to the right, direction of the future.  The dedicated practice must continue steadily onward, no matter what it comes up against.  Meanwhile, the other two Courts are facing to the left, towards the past.  These are past emotions, demons from the past, which the sadhana is designed to help with.  And if I stick with it, hopefully the Knight of Pentacles will eventually get by these two, and continue onward.

With that perseverance in mind, I went up and called my circle.  After practising yoga for over 35 minutes, I sat to chant and meditate.   This time, the fears that came up were around not being a good enough mother.  My son is severely disabled, and I get a lot of help with him.  Sometimes, though, I feel guilty for not taking care of him myself all the time.  Partly, it's a financial question - two salaries are normally necessary to pay the bills here in London.  Partly, too, there is a part where I am afraid I might come to hate him if I had to care for him all the time.  That part makes me cry.

These are fears I need to come to terms with, too.  And being pregnant again brings these questions of motherhood to the fore.  I hope that I get the balance more or less right - like yoga, it is a dynamic equilibrium, different every day.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 9

This morning, I went to my altar space before breakfast.  After calling my circle, I said my affirmations out loud, and practised yoga for 28 minutes to a silent breath chant of Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha.  Afterwards, I chanted while seated, and meditated on the fears I've been facing, and the changes I've been making.

Later, I was on a long (2 hours long!), hands-free phone call.  Although I needed to pay attention to what was being said, I find that it actually helps to keep my hands busy so I don't get fidgety.  I finished sewing up a tarot bag that I have been knitting (often during previous phone calls, these happen once a month).  Then, I used the opportunity to do a pencil sketch of Kali.  This is not to replace the painting I intend to do, but I couldn't get my paints out in the office, whereas a little sketch-pad and pencils are fairly subtle :)

Anyhow, the sketch isn't finished yet, but it felt good to do it.  And at least I got my tarot bag finished, this one has been hanging around since April!  The yarn is nice and soft, and though you can't really see it in the photo, it's black with sparkly bits :)

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 8

Almost didn't think I'd get to meditating and practising yoga today, what with one thing and another.  Eventually, though, I did.  Once again, I called my circle, then stood at the top of my yoga mat and proclaimed my affirmations.  I practiced for nearly 40 minutes, and then sat and chanted Om Krim Kalikayei Namaha.

I'm really enjoying using my rudrakasha mala.  There's something about the rough texture of the seeds that is kind of tingly :D  The texture helps keep me more mindful.  They don't just smoothly flow through my fingers, but have a little bite that is renewed each time I move onto the next bead, reminding me of what my hands are doing and why :)

Today, one of the things that came to my mind was the question of fears.  Bizarrely enough, turns out I'm afraid of starting to use the acrylics I bought back before the summer!  I keep finding reasons not to open them and start painting.  Partly, it's the fear of the unknown - how will they work, will I be able to mix them correctly, will they dry out too quickly, will they make a terrible mess?  Partly, I think it's the fear that I won't be able to achieve what I want with them, which of course will take practice.  I was even thinking of doing a second sketch of Kali in a smaller pad so that I could colour it with pencils, which I feel more comfortable with.  Anyhow, I vow to stop wussing about this and actually paint something, anything, by the end of this week!

As for the drawing part of my sadhana, I also realised today that the sketch I thought was ready for painting is actually missing eyebrows - small, incidental detail *doh*  So, tonight I shall add in the eyebrows, then this sketch will be ready for painting...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 7

When calling my circle, I called to the East, the South, the West, the North, and the Space In Between; by Air, by Fire, by Water, by Earth, and by the Void; by Oya, by Brigid, by Cerridwen, by Hekate and by Kali.  I was also inspired to add Kali's name before each of my affirmations for change (Kali, I am changing my life for the better), and to add, "With the help of your strength, determination and compassion" at the end.  It feels like this calling is becoming clearer and more powerful…

I practised yoga for 25 minutes - 5 A's, 4 dancing warriors, and some standing and seated poses.  Then, I sat and chanted a mala of Om Krim Kalikayei Namaha.  Finally, I closed the circle in reverse, and prayed for the Goddess in all her aspects to accompany me through the day.

I've been thinking some more about what I want to include in my image of Kali, as well as worrying about how it'll turn out.  Last night, I worked on the sketch some more, rubbing out 3/4 of what I'd first drawn and then re-drawing it using guidelines and a ruler to clarify proportions and neaten it up.  So, after about an hour spent on it, it still looks like something that could be done in about 5 minutes *doh*  Ah well, this too is part of the sadhana.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 6

I was feeling really tired this morning after an extremely restless night's sleep.  Still, I stood at the end of my yoga mat, proclaimed my affirmations for change, and started practising, thinking "Well, I can always just do a few sun salutes."  I ended up doing 4 A's, 4 dancing warriors, and a few standing and seated poses - total 25 minutes.  Then, I sat, called a circle, and chanted out loud, a full mala.

One of the thoughts that drifted into my mind was about what I like in an image of Kali.  There are lots that show her in a macabre dance, which I quite like as it emphasises the sense of movement and change that I get from her.  However, at the moment my favourite is actually this one from Doreen Virtue's Goddess Guidance Oracle.  I love how direct and challenging her gaze is, like she won't let me look away, won't let me off without facing up to things.  She challenges me to face the darkness, but says that she will be there, too...

I have started sketching an image of Kali.  I've little practice at such things, so it may well not live up to what I want to express.  Still, one thing I will certainly do is try to give her this direct gaze :)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 5

The Goddess Oracle
This morning I was pretty exhausted, having only had 5 hours sleep.  So, I didn't do a yoga practice, but just called my circle, stated my affirmations for change, chanted a mala of Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha with my new rudrakasha mala - you are such an enabler, Eowyn ;) - and sat for a bit meditating on my fears.  What came up for me were some of my fears about having another baby.

With my son, everything seemed fine until the labour, and then lots of things went wrong.  The doctor who gave us his (dire) prognosis, put the blame on all sorts of things, from me having drunk too much water during labour, to an infection my son caught from me on the way out (not something they'd tested for, despite a barrage of blood samples).  Of course, it's also possible that he was already not all that strong, as he was born very small (2.66 kilos - 5.8 pounds).  Anyhow, I pulled a card from the Oracle of the Shapeshifters (2013 U.S. Edition, not that you can tell from this card).  My question was, "What should I know about facing my fears today?"

Certainly, my first impression of "Bats in the Belfry: You can achieve great things" is pretty positive: I can make strides in conquering my fears.  Looking a little deeper, I see a couple of useful messages.

The first is to get some perspective, an overview, on these fears.  I see in this a suggestion to ask my current gynaecologist about some of these anxieties, and what he would recommend in various circumstances.  I've already got a lot more information now than when my son was born, from various doctors and other parents of special needs children.  However, getting the opinion of the person I've chosen to help me through this labour seems sensible.  I think I haven't asked some of these things as I hadn't really thought about such specifics.

Secondly, the bats make me think about steering a course using different senses.  That says to me that, when it comes down to it, the best source of information is myself and my intuition.  I am the only one who will be actually giving birth.  This is very relevant, as for example with the question of having drunk too much water during labour, both my midwife and my DH kept on telling me to drink.  I didn't stop to check in whether I actually wanted to, I just assumed that they knew best.  Hopefully, regular meditation will have helped me become more mindful since then...

UPDATE:  After a nap, I went back to my altar and practised yoga while silently chanting to Kali.  4 A's, 4 dancing warriors, and some standing and seated poses.  Total 23 minutes.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 4

This morning, I called a circle, then proclaimed my affirmations for change from the front of my yoga mat.  I practised for half an hour - 4 A's, 2 B's, 4 dancing warriors, and then rounded out the practice with standing, seated and reclining poses.  While I practised, I silently chanted Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha, except for a few bits where I was doing Pilates-type exercises, and chanted Jai Kali Ma to match the faster breathing pace :)  Afterwards, I chanted out loud, then sat for a while in silence feeling the energy within me.  Finally, I devoted my circle and gave thanks.

I've been thinking a lot about Kali, and about my approach to deity more generally.  Partially inspired by this sadhana, partially by an email I received yesterday from someone I respect a great deal.  She asked if I was sure I should be working with such a terrifying, destructive Goddess.

One thing this brought up for me was a recognition that I don't believe in Gods and Goddesses as real beings.  Lon Milo DuQuette, in one of his books (The Key to Solomon's Key, I think), talks about demons being aspects of ourselves that we can call up and project outward to better deal with them.  I feel a little the same about deity.  I recognise deity as being beyond and outside of mere human minds and souls, but the aspects of deity which we create and call upon are, for me, more the externalisation of our own inner divinity.  Calling these energies, I am trying to tap into those aspects of divine energy that are within me.

As for Kali being destructive, she has long been associated with death and fear.  However, I see her more as about ending that which needs ending, and coping with fear, facing it with courage.  Some might say this is a fluffy bunny approach to a frightening Goddess often depicted with a necklace of skulls, and sometimes dismembered arms as a belt, with a bloody knife in hand.

Another perspective is to recognise that death is no longer such a terrifying concept in our day as it was in the past when infant mortality was a lot higher and the average age people lived to was much lower.  Yes, death is still one of the great existentials of life, but it isn't as terrifying and all present as it used to be.  And I feel that change is echoed in how we perceive a Goddess like Kali.  She is no longer so much to be feared.  Rather, the positives of her fierceness and fearlessness can be applied to help us destroy bad habits and face fears, which is my intent in this sadhana.

When I call on Kali, I call a sacred circle first, and close it after.  I ground and centre, and focus my intent.  I do not fear her qualities welling up and overwhelming me, as I feel I have put appropriate safeguards in place, and set my will in this practice clearly.  For me, this is magic, not superstition, and I embrace Kali's help.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 3

Image titled "The Void is Full Not Empty" 
Once again this morning, I called my expanded circle - East, South, West, North and the Void.  I then stood at the top of my yoga mat, facing my altar, and said out loud my affirmations of change.  I enjoyed a 22 minute yoga practice - 4 sun salute A's, 4 dancing warriors, some standing poses, back bends, hip openers and seated poses for lateral bends, rotations and forward bends.

I was going to draw a single card from the Wicca Pack, but changed my mind at the last minute and drew a line of three from my favourite Lennie, asking: "How can I change my life for the better today?"  I drew Cross, Bouquet, and Tower, shown here from the Mystical Lenormand (Königsfurt-Uranis, 2004):

I read these as saying that I need to get creative with how I manage institutional burdens - ie. paperwork.  This has been an on-going theme this week, something I need to do but haven't.  So, it would change my life for the better to stop procrastinating on this one, get it done, and maybe in a more imaginative way than I would normally try...

After that, I chanted just a half mala of Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha, as I could hear my DH getting up and I hadn't yet made his breakfast (or my own).

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Kali Sadhana Day 2

My Goddess Circle
This morning, I called the quarters and added in the Void - the space above, below, nowhere and everywhere - with Kali to represent it.  Then, I practised 4 sun salute A's, 1 sun salute B, and 4 dancing warriors, followed by some backbends, forward bends, lateral bends, and rotations (total 17 minutes).  Throughout, I just focused on my breath and on silently chanting Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha.  After that, I sat and chanted 108 repetitions out loud, devoked my circle, and ended with a resounding "Ja Kali Ma!"

It felt really good, and I didn't feel at all short tempered afterwards.  In fact, I went straight to bed for a nap, very peacefully :)

This five layered expression of the Goddess is still on my mind.  Yesterday, I read an old post from Lisa Frideborg Lloyd on peri-menopause.  The bit that stayed with me (given I'm not at the peri-menopause yet), was that she looked at 4 aspects of a woman's life, 4 aspects of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Queen, Crone.  As I said yesterday, I'm not very convinced by Marie Brennan's "Bride" aspect.  To me, that's not really about a woman's life phase, as much as about joining with another - a choice, but not an aspect of self, maybe?  So, if I were to create a five-tiered structure, following the pentagram notion, I might prefer to amalgamate these two into: Maiden, Warrior, Mother, Queen, Crone.

I'll think about this a bit more.  If I were to use that structure for a Goddess Pentagram, I think I would use different Goddesses to those in my circle...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Kali Sadhana

Inspired by Eowyn's post, I have decided to join her in a 21 day sadhana dedicated to Kali.  To reflect this, I made some altar-ations, choosing my favourite three Kali cards from various decks (the Goddess Guidance Oracle from Doreen Virtue, the Goddess Oracle from Marashinsky and Janto, and the Oracle of Shadows and Light by Cavendish and Beckett-Griffith - US version).  I also chose black hematite and black tiger eye stones for the earth section of my altar, my black 54 bead mala, and left the orange altar cloth to provide contrast.

In terms of my practice, I wanted to keep things fairly simple.  I set up my altar, lit a candle, and created a list of changes I want to bring into my life.  I decided to phrase these as happening, rather than simply desired, as I think this speaks more directly to the unconscious.  I decided on just four phrases:

After doing the set-up, I practiced 4 sun salute A's and 4 sun salute B's (including some dancing warriors, which seemed appropriate for Kali), while silently chanting Om Krim Kalikaye Namaha with each breath (inhale and exhale combined).  I tried to focus on each one of my changes with one sun salute of each type.  Then, I sat and chanted 108 repetitions of the mantra out loud.

It's interesting, I just finished a fantasy novel yesterday (Doppelgänger by Marie Brennan), which made me think about the aspects of the Goddess.  While there are many triple Goddess variants, she proposed five aspects: Maiden, Bride, Warrior, Mother, Crone.  I like the addition of the Warrior, though I'm less sure about the Bride.  In the novel, it was so that there could be an aspect for each of the four elements, and for the Void/Spirit.  I think I will incorporate this into my calling of the quarters: adding Kali for the Void after calling Oya (Air), Brigid (Fire), Cerridwen (Water) and Hekate (Earth).

Saturday, 16 November 2013


This morning, I sat at my altar for the first time since Monday.  I had meditated a couple of other days, but on the move.  I chanted Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha - a chant to my favourite God: Ganesha.  And I chose a card from the Way of the Horse (New World Library, 2007).

As soon as I'd drawn it I rolled my eyes and thought: "Oh, no!" - a sure fire sign that it's a message that is relevant to me ;)  The card's title (I wrote them on the cards, at Eowyn's suggestion), is Vigilance.  And you can certainly see that in this horse, with ears pricked and nostrils flared, eyes wide open, trying to pick up as much information as possible.

The idea of vigilance, though, just makes me feel tired.   One of my problems sleeping is that I've spent years now startling awake with my son, worried he's in pain, throwing up, or unable to breathe.  The adrenaline rush then makes it hard to get back to sleep.  More recently, regular respite nights and taking 5-HTP have helped with that.

Then, there's the fact of having to be vigilant when with my son.  He has no save reflex, so when running around or even just sitting, there is a level of attention that always needs to be there.  Just this morning, before going up to meditate, he'd been sitting on my lap and tried to turn too quickly.  I caught him part way down, but not before he'd struck his head a glancing blow on the coffee table.  It wasn't a bad knock, but did get my adrenaline flowing again.  Not just worrying about his pain in the moment, but also whether it would be enough to trigger painful spasms (which it doesn't seem to have).  This constant vigilance in his presence is wearing, and one reason I'm so grateful he goes to school and loves it there.

And so this card reminds me that a degree of vigilance is necessary for survival, but that over vigilance leads to problems.  I guess this is a balance I still need to work on...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Messages About Motherhood

This morning, I sat to meditate for the first time all week.  I chanted to the Goddess in her many aspects (Isis, Tara, Oya, Brigid, Cerridwen, Hekate, Kali, Durga, Yemaya).  I thought about drawing a single card from a Lucy Cavendish oracle deck, longing for a simple message.  In the end, though, I shuffled my favourite Lenormand, and when six cards fell out all together, decided to take them as my reading.

(As a side note, drawing six cards made me think about the tradition of drawing uneven lines.  Yet, in the Grand Tableau, the "most traditional" version is the 8x4+4 method, giving an even line.  And many traditionalists argue that you should never consider a Lenormand card individually, and yet they do just that with the middle card as theme!  There's no reason you can't consider the centre two cards as the theme, so that's what I've done here.)

These are the cards, shown here with the Mystical Lenormand (Königsfurt-Urania, 2004):

Heart, Dog, Bear, Rider, Clover, Owls
The theme is about messages around motherhood (Bear/Rider), and I read this as saying that I need to be faithful to my emotions (Heart/Dog), and look for a little wisdom (Clover/Owls).  I haven't been paying much attention to my feelings of late, too busy with other things (witness not having meditated all week).  Yet, there are definitely emotional anxieties there (mirroring Heart/Owls), to which I have offered little of my attention (Dog/Clover).  I have faith, though, that connecting with my emotions will help me find a little wisdom about the whole subject.  There are synchronous messages (Rider/Clover) available, perhaps from a friend who is also a mother (Dog/Bear), perhaps from honouring the strength of my loyalty as a mother.

I have been feeling almost angry, and certainly anxious, about my emotionality (such as crying when trying to shop on amazon for a dvd for my own mother for Christmas).  Yet, that is also a resource to tap, if I choose to see it that way.  My emotions are far closer to the surface, far stronger, so I can hopefully learn from them more easily than if they were buried deep.

There are a lot of emotions in me around pregnancy and motherhood: it hasn't been an easy path for me so far.  Yet, I want this time to be different.  I see here, too, a message that small changes can make a huge difference.  This isn't a spread full of big, obvious cards - Ring, Child, Storks, Coffin, or Tree, for instance.  It is about staying loyal in the day-to-day, accepting small joys when they come, feeling my anxiety and learning from it, looking for subtle messages from my body and in my life.

I appreciate the reminder that I need to listen inwardly, pay attention to small signs, and give time to both my children - the one who more obviously needs it, and the one who is not yet able to ask for what is needed.  That I should show a loyal love to this pregnancy, to myself as being pregnant, even if in small and subtle ways like taking aspirin daily and making sure I snooze if I need to.  I shall certainly do my best to heed the cards's wisdom :)

Monday, 4 November 2013

November New Moon Reading

Another moon has gone by, and so for the New Moon I drew two cards from the Tarot of the Sidhe (Schiffer, 2011).

This reading says to me that I need to release my over-thinking side, and also the idea that I can connect with spirit through purely mental means.  Instead, I need to embrace an earthier spirituality, and a more physical connection with the world.  This makes perfect sense to me.  As I move further into my pregnancy, my body changes more, and my connection with my baby comes to the fore.  This is a very physical experience, and trying to narrow things to a more mental outlook just isn't going to work, even though it is one I normally feel more comfortable with.

This reading also reminds me that I need to prioritise.  Making sure there is a warm, welcoming home for my baby to come into, and that I take care of myself and it, are top priority.  Other things, no matter how fun or stimulating, may need to take a back seat.  I can't go drifting off on an airy bubble of thoughts and dreams, I need to stay practical.

Sunday, 3 November 2013


I've  been doing much better on the meditation front the last week or so.  This morning, too, I sat and drew some cards, then chanted Om Mani Padme Hum.  At first, the cards, shown here from the Mystical Lenormand (Königsfurt-Urania, 2004), didn't make much sense to me.  However, I know from experience that staying with the cards they always have something to tell us.

Man, Clover, Stars
It was only after my meditation that I went back to the cards and figured them out.  What I see these cards saying is that a little leadership will bring greater clarity.  My childcare fell through on Friday, so I didn't have time to do a lot of the work that came in that day.  Then, yesterday, I was travelling and had no internet connection.  So, this morning, despite it being a Sunday, I had some catching up to do.

One thing was something that I worked on during the train rides yesterday, but which I hadn't been able to email my colleague about.  I don't like sending emails when I'm really tired - just in case I express myself poorly.  So, I emailed this morning instead.   I hope that my work and the email I sent about it will help bring greater clarity to the project, as so far I don't feel she's quite "getting" it.  I'd hate to have to fire her and find someone else...