Saging Your Home

I’ll be completely honest, I don’t smudge my surroundings or myself nearly as often as I’d like to. But next month we are bringing home our second child and while I’m knee deep in nesting, I figure saging the house needs to be part of preparing our home for the new baby. 

Smudging the home with herbs or cedar has been a staple in Native American tradition for centuries. The herbs used in smudging are dependent heavily on the particular region and tribe as to what is traditionally used. Today, white sage is the most common herb used in household smudging, but far from the only option. 

I have a bundle of white sage and a beautiful abalone shell that I picked up from an amazing spiritual shop in Austin (https://www.ancient-mysteries.net/). I decided to get an abalone shell to hold my sage because the shell itself is not only gorgeous but has amazing protective and balancing energies itself. I like having as many natural elements in my sacred space as possible, so the abalone shell was the perfect choice. I personally like to use white sage because sage grew wild where I was raised in the mountains of NorCal, so it reminds me of home. Saging is about clearing your energies and grounding yourself, so I figure what better way to help ground myself than to have a small reminder of my roots. 

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To start, I lit my bundle of sage and let the flame dance around for a moment or two before I blew it out. Long enough to catch the herb and create a nice smoke. Hold the sage over the abalone shell (or whatever dish you choose to use) as you walk through the house so any piece of burning herb that falls from the smudging stick doesn’t land on your floors. I started in the entryway and worked my way through the natural progression of my home, following the hallway and into the kitchen. Working my way through my entire house in a clockwise circle, finishing the tour in my bedroom. As you make your way through the house, think very clearly about cleansing every corner in every room of negativity. Invite balance and growth into your space. 

When you have reached the last corner in the last room, take a moment to finalize your intentions and gently stamp the sage bundle out in the abalone shell. You can also spray it with water, but at this point in your smudging journey, the sage smoke will start going out on its own. So it’s super easy to finish it off this way and save it for your next cleansing ritual. 

I have been saging my home at least annually since I moved into my first apartment in 2010 (so long ago). Personally I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to smudge, as long as your intentions are clear and you do what feels right in your heart. I’ve been told very particular practices, such you can’t reuse a bundle of sage once you’ve smudged with it or you have to recite a specific chant, but that’s just personal preference, not law. 

Celebrating Mabon

History of Mabon

Mabon is the pagan celebration of the autumn equinox and one of the harvest festivals celebrated throughout the year. Summer has officially ended in the northern hemisphere and the days are once again the same length of time as night. Days and nights having the same hours symbolizes balance and unity during this time. During this time of the second harvest of the year, hearty foods such as pumpkins and other gords and apples are ready to be collected and shared in a great feast of abundance. 

The sabbat Mabon is named in the 1970’s after a Welsh God, the son is the Goddess who we celebrated to be heavy with child during the summer solstice. I don’t know about you but I found it interesting that the sabbat, along with the two holidays honoring the equinoxes, were named so recently. You can read more about that on this blog post written by Katrina Rasbold (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/energymagic/2015/09/mabon/). 

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How I Celebrated

Bake an apple pie

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Of all the foods associated with the fall equinox and the harvest, apples are one of the most iconic. I chose an apple dessert not only because of its symbolism but also its versatility! Apple pie, apple tarts, apple bread. There are so many different ways to celebrate this amazing fruit. 

Decorate my altar 

Apples, fall leaves, acorns, and tiny pumpkins are perfect additions to your altars during this time of year. Since our energies are so intertwined with nature, bringing foods and foliage from the outdoors into your sacred place can help make your meditation place even more special. At least it does for me. Celebrating holidays and sabbats are very personal, so make sure to do what you feel in your heart. 

Make a gratuity list

Photo from Pixabay stock

Take a moment to look at everything you have to be grateful for. Even the smallest accomplishments and joys should be celebrated. Family, health, food, books, coffee. Whatever helps you not only get through the day, but thrive is deserving of a place on your gratuity list. 

Declutter your home. 

Photo from Pixabay Stock

Pick a room and downsize things you don’t need. Not only is this a good thing to do for your physical home, but also for your soul. It’s not healthy to carry around all this weight and decluttering your home is a great exercise to literally and metaphorically cleanse your space. Closets and the garage are perfect places to start since these areas are mainly used as storage. We did the garage and the hall closet and it felt phenomenal to have gotten rid of things we should have donated years ago. 

Fall Bucket List

Fall is my absolutely favorite time of the year. It’s the season that I spend all of spring and summer dreaming about. There’s something magical about the way the trees shed their leaves, getting rid of old baggage as they begin their journey towards rebirth in the spring. I’ve always admired the transformation and I see humans replicated the process all the time. Letting go of people who don’t help us progress into our better selves, healing from old traumas. Our souls are a lot like those trees outside your window, sometimes barren, sometimes green and full of life. We are more tied in with nature than a lot of people realize, that’s why I make a list every season of everything I want to do to not only honor the corresponding holidays but also to honor my connection with the earth.

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Fall Bucket List

1. Visit the pumpkin patch

2. Make apple cider

3. Carve pumpkins

4. Bake homemade pies

5. Have a family movie night

6. Decorate for Halloween/Samhain

7. Take family photos

8. Make DIY candles

9. Watch the sunset

10. Give back (Clean out closets and donate unwanted clothes)

11. Fall cleanse the house (Clean, organize, and smudge)

12. Make baked apples

13. Host a bonfire with friends

14. Prepare a fall picnic

15. Go thrift shopping for a new sweater

16. Make a pumpkin and cream cheese loaf

17. Go on a nature walk

18. Go trick or treating around the neighborhood

19. Cook a meal with squash

20. Craft with fall leaves

Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels

Fall is the season for two spiritual holidays. Mabon, the fall equinox and the celebration of the harvest season, and Samhain, which falls on Halloween night and symbolizes the end of the Celtic year. When making these lists, I make an effort to blend the two faiths practiced within my family, and it’s much easier than I expected it, as many of the reserved holidays have deep pagan roots!

Five Things I Can’t Live Without as a Writer

There’s a lot of fancy writing apps and calendars and pretty floral cover everything, but do we really need all of it? Totally. You invest in whatever is going to help you be more productive and creative. Everyone has their rituals that help them get into the groove for making art. A special pen. A specific corner of the room with the best lighting for sketching. The sun at the perfect angle in the sky. For me, there are five essential things I need as a writer. Things I can’t live without and go out of my way to make sure I have on hand. 

An external hard drive– for backups. DO NOT keep all your writing on this and only this. My hard drive shit out on me a while ago and while I lost some pictures, thankfully I had all my current projects saved on my computer as well. Always have your work saved in two or three places, as much as we love and utilize technology, it’s still very fragile. 

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Notebooks. I shop for notebooks like I’m a kid going back to school, old habits die hard. When I was attending college, I had notebooks for literally everything. While everyone else was typing away during lecture, I was scribbling. Attempting to keep up with my professors. Even though I can type much faster than I can write, there’s something about a pen on paper. I retain information easier that way. I feel more engaged that way. When I’m on a streak, typing is definitely my go to, but when it comes to plot and drafting out chapters, I am still an ink on paper kind of gal. 

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Evernote and Google Docs. The thing I love the most about these apps, you don’t have to transfer information. You can access your account on your computer and your phone, and what you change on one, you change on both. When I would be at work and have an idea, I would open up whatever doc I needed and jot down my idea. When I got home, there it was waiting to be utilized when I turned on my computer. Having all your goodies in the same place makes your life as a creative writer a million times easier. 

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A Day Planner. Again, old habits. There’s something about list making that makes productivity more magical. When I see it written that today I have to finish two chapters and do some laundry, I just don’t feel right until I check the boxes that I did those things. If I don’t write them down, then I feel like I’ll never get around to them. Organization is key, and this is how I stay organized. I also keep track of all my blog posts, bills, and my husband’s appointments as well. Let’s just say not a single day in that planner is blank. 

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Music. This may seem kind of cliche, but it’s so true. If you want to get in a mood to get some shit done, then all you need is the right playlist to inspire you. I have a playlist for every single project. Every story has its own soundtrack and when one of these songs comes on, I can’t help but feel the urge to get some work done. I went into more detail on this one a while back in a previous blog. (Insert blog link for inspirational music).

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Seeds, Core, and All

After watching the series Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu (based on the novel by Celeste Ng), I knew I had to read the book. Usually I don’t go in this order. If I know something is based on a book, I make sure to read it first but I figure I’d try something new. The series was amazing. Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are amazing. If you haven’t seen it yet, do so. The book, on the other hand, was half exactly what I was expecting and half a complete surprise. 

First, what I liked about the novel was the writing style. It is a complete opposite of how I write, so it was interesting to see a different approach to storytelling. It’s told in third person, allowing the reader into the heads of not only the two main characters but their family members as well. A lot of times when writers do this, it can feel a bit chaotic but Ng pulled off switching narratives with such grace. It was the most natural flow of view points I’ve ever read. Like all the characters were running a marathon, passing the baton off to one another seamlessly. It was impressive.

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The parallels are anothing thing I admired about the plot. I’ll attempt to explain without spoilers, but Mia and Bebe’s story lines are so complex and similar. They really make you sit back and contemplate morality. What is right? What actions are truly justified? What makes a parent and what determines who is a good parent? Good books are ones that make you think, and this one definitely does that. As a mother, parts of this narrative struck really close to home. Sympathy for a character who suffered from half a dozen miscarriages turns to adoption only to have that threatened as well. The love that you feel for your children running so deep in your veins and having to accept the distance as they get older. The space they need to become their own person cracks your soul because cuddling them as infants becomes such a safe haven that slowly gets taken away. Safe havens, another parallel in the novel that isn’t what it seems on the outside. 

The town the novel is based, Shaker Heights, stuck out to me. Clashing of the social classes is nothing new, but it’s a theme in stories that I have always found very intriguing. How can someone feel they are more superior than someone else based on the square footage of their home? It’s something Ng did on purpose. No one can expose a town for what it truly is than someone who grew up there. Shaker Heights looks pristine on the outside. Progressive, idealistic, clean and crisp. In reality, it suffers the same issues that every other town in America does. Exclusiveness. Pretentious. White, very white. Although other races do reside in the town, it’s very much viewed as a privilege by many community members. “We don’t see color.” Is a common quote that comes up many, many times. It opens up a question that many people are pondering on today, what does not seeing color actually mean and what’s wrong with seeing people for who they are? Is seeing color the problem or is treating someone differently because of it the actual issue? It’s an important conversation and Ng does a fabulous job demonstrating the conflict some of her characters face with this particular topic. 

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All in all, it’s definitely a story I recommend, especially if you’ve seen the show. There are so many differences between the show and the book, naturally, but many of the changes I wonder why they did so. Other than attempting to make the show more edgy and dramatic, I didn’t see a need. Especially the ending. Completely changing who actually sets the fire that is introduced in the beginning of the novel really threw me off. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, yeah?