October 2018 House of Rituals Pagan Subscription Box

I received my October Mini House of Rituals subscription box a few weeks ago and have already used the stuff from it, but I wanted to show you all what I got anyhow. Here is what came in the box:

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The theme this month was Samhain & Diving with Spirits. The package included a 3-card spread tarot reading cloth, 3 tarot cards chosen individually for each subscriber (I got The Lovers, The High Priestess, and the 3 of Wands cards), a tarot card reading guide, a book about various kinds of spirits and how to work with them, 2 silver candles, full moon incense, an old-fashioned pocketwatch, an antique photo, a sun/moon decorative tile, a chunk of rose quartz, and instructions.

When I do rituals I tend to kind of disregard the instructions and just do what feels right, so I used the materials to do a small altar spread honoring the spirit of Samhain and The Day of the Dead. I did keep the theme of past, present, and future and did feel that the 3 cards they sent me fit well! Here is an image of my finished altar spread:

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My personal interpretation of the 3 cards is as follows:

Past – The Lovers: Duality in my past spills over into my present.

Present – The High Priestess: A need for my subconscious to heal from the pain of the past so I can move on.

Future – 3 of Wands: Harmonious prosperity (hopefully a good result to my upcoming SSDI hearing?)

I mostly consider the Tarot a system that is fun and helps you get in touch with your own inner thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs through meditation, so I don’t necessarily try to use it to “predict the future”, but if it wants to tell me the future looks good, I will accept that!

Things I Would REALLY Like to Say to My Past Abusers

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  • I don’t owe you anything!
  • I’m nothing like you.
  • You don’t own me and you never did.
  • You deserve what you got.
  • Sometimes I feel nothing for you.
  • You are at fault for so much.
  • You have no one to blame but yourself.
  • You are lucky to have anyone who still cares.
  • I’m a saint for forgiving you.
  • Without me, you’d have nothing!
  • I hate you sometimes.
  • You’ll never break me.
  • I’ll never crack.
  • I am a much better person than you’ll ever be.
  • I’m smarter than you.
  • You fuel my creativity with anger, disgust, frustration, and grief.
  • I’ve made something good out of your mess.
  • I am superior – by actions and attitude.
  • Your religion doesn’t hide the truth.
  • I found love and success in spite of you.
  • I’m the person you always wanted to be, but couldn’t.
  • Toys have always been better company than you.
  • You helped me find and lose faith in God.
  • I will heal.
  • I’m STRONGER than you.

*By the way, BetterHelp has a great article on emotional abuse, I would recommend it!

“The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” Book Review

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I wanted to write a short review of a book I picked up at the library recently. I found it in the children’s section, but I truly believe it is an inspirational read that anyone of any age could appreciate. It is called “The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life” and it is written by Kwame Alexander, who happens to be a Newbery Medal-Winning author.

The book is a fairly quick read, with much of the book being simple “rules” for success and inspirational quotes from various athletes. There are a few written chapters interspersed throughout that tell personal inspirational stories about athletes that obviously inspired the author. The one that I found most interesting was the chapter about Wilma Rudolph, the incredible Olympic track champion. I had no idea that Wilma had suffered chronic illnesses throughout her childhood, including polio! A woman that went on to win three gold medals for running in a single Olympics was once a child that had only one working leg and had to wear a metal leg brace for many years!

Stories like these mean a great deal to me as someone who struggles every day with chronic pain and other health issues. It makes me feel like I can still make a difference and chase my dreams, even if there are significant obstacles in my way. Another story in the book that made an impression on me was the one about Venus and Serena Williams and how their father would actually pay other children to yell out rude and demeaning comments to his daughters while they practiced tennis as kids. He knew they would face racism and other forms of hatred and wanted to toughen them up. I’m not sure this is actually a good parenting tip lol, but I guess it seemed to work in the long run for the girls.

There was one quote in the book (by the famous motivational speaker Willie Jolley) I took a real liking to:

“A setback is a setup for a comeback.”

Imagine having that attitude about every challenge we face!

Lyrics of My Life, “Keep the Faith” by Michael Jackson

This may be my favorite song of all time, even though it is a little known song by the King of Pop. It is a song that I have always found incredibly inspirational and supportive when I felt like everything was going wrong and the world was conspiring against me. I have listened to this song on repeat during many drives to scary things like job interviews, or when I had to give an author talk in front of an entire elementary school years ago. Without the song, I’m not sure I could have drummed up enough courage and willpower to do things that cause me such enormous anxiety.

I think what I like best about this song is that it has kind of a kick-butt attitude, even though it sounds a lot like an African American gospel song at points. It definitely isn’t a wishy-washy song, with lyrics like:

“Better stand up and act like you want to do right
Don’t play the fool for the rest of your life
Work on it brother and you’ll make it someday
Go for what you want
And don’t forget the faith

Look at yourself
And what you’re doing right now
Stand back a minute
Just to check yourself out
Straighten out your life
And how you’re living each day
Get yourself together
Because you got to keep the faith…”

“I told my brother how to do the thing right
Lift up your head
And show the world you got pride
Go for what you want
Don’t let them get in your way

You can be a winner
If you keep the faith
Straighten out yourself
And get your mind on track
Dust off your butt
And get your self-respect back
You know me long enough
To know that I don’t play
Take it like you want it
But you got to keep the faith…”

…And that is only a small portion of the lyrics (it is a long song lol)

My Story in 59 Words

Art By Maranda Russell

My Story in 59 Words
Written By: Maranda Russell

I am a product of the heartland,
and many years of dedication.

I am a survivor of abuse,
and the proud parent of creation.

I am separate from my family,
but still trust their education.

I hear earth’s voices unite in song,
and join their recitation.

No doubt my life will face its trials,
yet I strive for graduation.

Religion…for all the wrong reasons?

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Just something to think about…

Have you ever really stopped to think why you believe what you believe? If you have any religious or spiritual beliefs, what prompted you to form them? If you are a Christian for example, why did you choose to be a Christian? Was it because that is what you were taught growing up? Is it because most of your friends/family share that belief system and you want to fit in? Is it because you want blessings in return or fear going to hell? Or it is because you truly love and want to live those beliefs?

Now, once you have an idea in mind of why you chose your beliefs, think about who those beliefs serve. Which of the reasons are self-serving and which are others-centered? If you chose your beliefs because that is what you were always taught or because all your friends and family share the beliefs, who benefits from that? Have you just taken the path of least resistance? Are you afraid to question those beliefs for fear of being ostracized, bullied or left out? If so, is that a good reason to believe something?

If you chose your beliefs because you fear the punishment of hell or desire rewards here or in heaven, who benefits from that? Is it selfish to choose a belief system based on what it can give you or to avoid the fears of hellish punishment that have been instilled in you? Is it materialistic to live a good life only because you want a nice mansion or big crown in heaven when you die? How many people keep some kind of tally in their head of good vs bad deeds, trying to do just enough good stuff to require whatever fulfillment they believe will get them into heaven? How selfish is the “gospel of prosperity” as some people have called it? Do you believe that if you do ‘right’ you deserve good things and that those who don’t have good things have obviously failed to live right (as I have heard some Christians say)?

Now, what about if you chose your beliefs because you truly loved them and wanted to live them? Do those beliefs make you want to serve others? If you are a Christian, do you truly like the things Jesus did and do you try to emulate those actions regardless of how unpopular they may be? Do you want to defend and help heal the weak and the hurting? Do you put the welfare of people before tradition? Do you want to actively participate in God’s spiritual kingdom here on earth and make things better for others while you are here, or are you just surviving until you can leave the earth? Do you find meaning in reaching out to others rather than in being entertained or catered to? Is your comfort more important to you than the basic needs of others?

Of course, no one can answer these questions for us. It is something that requires deep thought and honesty. It makes us see the parts of ourselves we may not like or may make us question what we have always thought. I ask myself these kinds of questions often and sometimes they are hard to face and reveal, but I have a deep desire to be authentically about helping others. So many of us take our selfishness into our religion…and that shows. People know and it turns them off. I hope that maybe we can all someday see that true love and spirituality can never be just about “us”, “our kind” or “our wants and needs”.

Review of “Walk Softly, You’re Steppin’ On My Heart!” Poetry Collection

Walk Softly Book Cover As a poet myself, I am always happy to find great poetry collections by other authors. Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society, it seems that poetry has somewhat fallen by the wayside, but I feel that there is truly no more artistic, beautiful way to express true feelings than by putting them into verse. The poetry collection I am reviewing today, “Walk Softly, You’re Steppin’ On My Heart!”, written by Christian and children’s author Pat Brannon, is truly a heartfelt, touching collection of inspiring and thoughtful reflections.

The poems in this collection are undeniably Christian, full of faith and trust in a higher power, but at the same time, the poet does not ignore the rough side of life or the doubts that tend to creep in as we navigate the human life. The poems are by turns sad, philosophical, joyful, thought-provoking and always full of grace and forgiveness for a world that desperately needs a helping hand from above.

As I neared the end of this collection, I realized that it truly takes a special gift to be able to reach the human heart on as many levels as Ms. Brannon manages to do with this book. It also takes a special person to share their faith in such an open manner, without becoming overbearing or judgemental. This is a book I will definitely hold on to for those days when I need a little pick-me-up (which happens quite often in this crazy, mixed-up world).

This collection would make a great gift for someone in need of a little encouragement and inspiration. Of course, it would make a fine gift to give yourself as well! For more information about this book and how to order a copy for yourself, please visit the author’s website, www.patbrannon.com (for ordering information, just click on the “books” link on the left side of the screen).