altar creation spread

If you didn't know, one of my passions is altar making. I have an altar 100% of the time on my bookcase in my meditation room. On one side, i always have a crystal grid going, just to raise the vibration of the room and my soul work. On the other side (because the bookcase is long and thin), I place a statue of a goddess or angel, or a picture, or a statue or fetish of the animal medicine I'm working with. Then more crystals, ones that work with the crystal grid or medicine wheel I have on the other side. I change it out depending on the holy day or sabbat, my soul work or journey work, shadow issues that arise, messages I am getting from Spirit, Animal Medicine, health or family crisis...whenever I am facing a new challenge, passion or phase in my life, I look to the altar first. 

I have been facing so many different exciting changes and circumstances. My health journey has been challenging this year. My work life has expanded with hibiscus moon and then my client base in harrisburg is always expanding and changing. My soul work has been on a nice even keel, and then I went to SouLodge Earth Medicine Gathering and uncovered many layers of what I need to do. Where do I even start with all this?

Well, that was my question. Where to start? Where does Spirit want me to start with all that information? Being an intuitive isn't always so clear cut. I get tons of messages. Right now, my dreaming is through the roof (Last night, i dreamed an incredible dream, and then when it was done, I decided to have that dream again, and then reworked it into a new dream with a new ending. Talk about lucid dreaming on steroids!) And sometimes I get that analysis paralysis, or rather information overload!

Because of all this soul work, I have rededicated myself to morning journaling and daily tarot pulls. AND WOWEE! it is awesome. What is awesome is finding a new passion for something I do so often for other people. When you pull tarot for clients, you often don't pull for yourself. Part of it is that i easily dismiss my messages--yeah, yeah, I need to stop being so hard on myself. Okay. Scoop up the cards, and immediately forget the message. So, journaling keeps you accountable, and I decided to play and explore some new decks beyond my beloved Rider-Waite, specifically the Chrysalis deck by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra as well as Motherpeace by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble. I've been using the BOOK! (I always joke with my students about getting OFF BOOK! and now I am back ON BOOK [and incidentally loving being on book. I even went on Rachel Pollack's book with the Rider Waite just to keep it going.]) 

All of this is to say, this morning, I tweaked a spread I do for myself for creating altars when I have a short attention span and cannot figure out what to focus on. It incorporates Oracle decks with Tarot; in fact, it incorporated four additional oracle decks--Visions Crystal Oracle, my own oracle deck called Cycles, of which there is only one deck and it is all about ritual, The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck and the Ascended Master deck by Doreen Virtue. Then I used the Chrysalis Tarot deck for my main work, which has guides in and of itself. (Such a fantastic deck. I was at first obsessed with the pips, but now, I cannot get enough of the Majors. Ariadne is stalking me, I swear. And Kali for that matter.)

Anyway, here is the spread as I pulled it:

So much of what this reading said to me was that it was time to allow transformation to happen. The shadow work here is around letting go, surrender and joy. I often struggle with joy. Joy is a bugger for me. So, this work with snake centers around this shedding of control and desire to figure it all out. The ritual card here is one I created called Enso, Imperfection. I used to have a fairly steady and daily enso painting practice. I don't paint ensos anymore--life got complicated with my adventurous two year old. But I decided to paint a rock to remind me of this for my altar, using this enso ritual as a jumping off point to explore an imperfect creative practice to funnel some energy.

Here is the altar and grid that arose from this spread:

You also can play with this spread, as I have compiled a little easy Tarot Layout for you to incorporate into your practice. In fact, I created a few of these for Pinterest, since I use SO MANY pinterest layouts these days, having not so recently discovered that they exist. Enjoy and share, if you can. It is great to have a Tarot community to bounce ideas off of. LOVE to YOU!

summer solstice

Ah, the Northern Hemisphere is starting to heat up on its slow crawl toward summer sostice. The Earth tilts toward the sun, honoring its beautiful fire. Solstice is a perfect time to explore your intentions, dreams, and set goals, like in my Creative Visioning class at Alta View Wellness. For each solstice and equinox, I create a seasonal altar and grid to help me harness that energy and maintain the beautiful vibration of the solar and lunar energy of this time. So much of the celebration of the solstices honor the Sun and the movement around the wheel of the year. 

I thought I would share some solstice stones to include in your Litha or Summer Solstice altars, celebrations and grids to help you harness that gorgeous vibration and work with it around this time. 

Let's start at one o'clock. Fire Agate captures the essence of fire. This stone holds the essence of physicality and strength. It is a stone of vitality and sexuality. So much of that sexual fire translates to creative fire. It inspires, ignites and intensifies one's passions and emotions. I couldn't think of a more apt stone on your Summer Solstice altar.

At five, I included raw Carnelian. My friend Joe from Crystals and Crafts sent me this beauty, which I have been working with in Medicine Bundle since the new moon of the Spring Equinox. The energy of Carnelian  vibrates at a physical level. It helps stimulate the first three chakras, and again ignites a kind of passionate dance with the Self. It's an amazing ally for courage and for self-realization. Creative fire sparks with Carnelian, and because of its help with certain literary homework in our house, it is nicknamed "the Poetry stone", as poetry and writing can't help but flow around Carnelian. I love Carnelian in all its forms, you have probably seen it in a thousand grids in my home, but I particularly love raw Carnelian.  

At six o'clockish, Sunstone beckons the long Solstice sun.  Sunstone stimulates that idea of enlighened leadership. Enlightened leadership utilizes this idea that true leadership is being of service, rather than being in control. And so Sunstone helps align self will and Divine will. It is a strong fire stone, again for Summer Solstice, it is important to honor the element of fire (and often water hand in hand.) Sunstone emanates, as Naisha Ahsian says, the Solar Ray. This is my experience of Sunstone as well, and I often use it in the center of Solstice Tarot readings, and other times I am invoking the sun and Father Sky.

At seven o'clockish is Citrine. This is a natural polished Citrine, and it does have a different vibration than heat treated Citrine, which is not to say one is better than the other. I simply prefer natural Citrine for Solstice altars and work.  It holds that pure fire energy, and emanates a golden ray. Most Citrine has smoky quartz within its matrix, and so that combination is amazingly grounding, helping one truly manifest one's desires and dreams, as it grounds the manifestor into realistically setting goals. 

At nine o'clock, Tangerine Quartz points toward that sexual, creative self. It inspires curiosity, playfulness and innocence. I used to always shy away from stones with fruit in the name. My teacher says most fruity named stones are dyed or faked, but Tangerine Quartz is an exception. This year, as I battle some sacral issues, I have really worked deeply with Tangerine Quartz. My personal specimen has both a past timeline and future timelink, which was incredibly helpful, as I was healing both my present sacral, past traumas and fears held in the womb, and then trying to heal any future trauma there. I love the lightness of being that Tangerine Quartz brought to my womb. It is a place of birth and creativity, not pain and fear. And Tangerine Quartz seemed to capture that for me. Whereas Carnelian can be a strong, masculine feel in the sacral area, Tangerine Quartz feels less violent and war-like. It is more like a gentle hand on the shoulder, rather than a full metal shield for protection there, and it is incredibly healing. 

At the eleven o'clock area here is Dogtooth Calcite, which is also called Stellar Beam Calcite. I just love this rock. My goodness. Stellar Beam is a wonderful ally for connecting with angels and guides. They are a stone of light, and connect the Higher Chakras with Divine Will. I included it with this grouping for Summer Solstice because they carry the golden ray, and in that way, connect with the power of the Sun.

Creating grids is my jam, you know. This Summer Solstice grid is simple and beautiful, and captures the fiery Sun energy for Solstice. Centered with a Carnelian sphere, the first circle includes natural Citrine, the second contains Sunstone, and the third contains Carnelian and white arrowheads to help direct my energy and cut through any blockages arising for me right now. I used a flower of life woods grid from Eternal Glyphics. Another wonderful way to create a grid is to include flowers in the grid itself. Of course, it doesn't last as long, but it is a wonderful addition to a Solstice circle or party.

You can also create your own gorgeous sun drink with Golden Milk. The main ingredient of Golden Milk is Turmeric, which is an anti-inflammatory. This is my main reason for drinking it. I am new to the whole Golden Milk thing, but I am in love with it. I could bath in it, honestly. Or marry it, even though my husband would be jealous. It is perfect. When I am taking in tea, juice or drinks as medicine, I like to create a wee grid around it, and charge it with Reiki. Not only does it satisfy my ritualistic itch, it slows me down, appreciate the small beauty we can create around us. And I am worth a little grid making, no?

Golden Milk is a simple recipe--a cup of almond milk, coconut milk or other milk product. I don't do dairy, so I made this one with coconut milk. One teaspoon of dried Turmeric, one teaspoon of Ginger, and a sprinkle or two of black pepper. Then honey to taste. I put the milk, turmeric, ginger and pepper in the blender, and mix is up. Then I pour into a saucepan and add raw honey to tast, warming it slowly. It is simply sun in a cup.

I wrote about Summer Solstice visioning in my latest newsletter. You can read that here: Visioning. I am promising to be on the blog more. I also am going to be rewriting/revisiting some old newsletter topics and re-publishing them on my blog, so let me know if you have some oldies, but goodies you are interested in seeing.

stones for grief support

I have written about grief quite a bit. For year, actually, I had a blog devoted to discussing grief and parenting. It surprises me that I haven't written about stones for grief support. Why crystals for grief? We often feel helpless when others are walking through the Dark Valley of grief and loss. We ourselves feel lost and in a dark wood when we have lost someone close to us. I certainly walk through cycles of grief in my life. My daughter died on Winter Solstice, and the time when the day is shortest, I begin my descent into the cold world of grief. And yet, it isn't as desolate and cold as I imagine. Grief is the deepest expression of love and longing. We do not grieve that which is unimportant to us. Each year as it approaches my daughter's death day and birthday, I find myself remembering those dark days of comprehending the impermanence of the human condition, and the reality that we will live without her bright soul. I welcome that time. For most of the year, I live this life without her. It is an ache I have grown accustomed to. Yet there is something comforting and necessary about my season of grief. Rather than a sad time, it is a time for my family to come together and love her, honor her, parent her. We hold her together, our collective memory, our survival of this horrible situation.

This grief grid was created for grieving parents on Kindness Day in 2013. It contains Rose Quartz, Green Aventurine, Dravite, and Apache Tears. Under the center stone contains the names of the parents and the child they lost. 

This grief grid was created for grieving parents on Kindness Day in 2013. It contains Rose Quartz, Green Aventurine, Dravite, and Apache Tears. Under the center stone contains the names of the parents and the child they lost. 

We tend to label grief as BAD. But in my experience, grief opens a door to love. It is a heart-centered experience. And grief is not just one emotion. It is an experience of many emotions and thoughts--joy, gratitude, anger, sadness, longing, loneliness, guilt, pride, compassion, empathy, selfishness...I could go on all day. Remember it is when we suppress emotions, feelings, instincts, that our body begins to manifest dis-ease. But when we honor the emotion--good, bad, ugly--we honor all of our human-ness. That is why we are here, after all. A spiritual being having a human experience.

Crystal support during these times of grief is incredible helpful. Most crystals recommended for grief support help us remain heart-centered. The first stone mentioned with grief support usually is Apache Tear. Apache Tear is a form of Black Obsidian. The lore around Apache Tear dates back to the late 1800s. A group of Apache warrior in battle against US Calvary were outnumbered and facing defeat. They chose to ride off a cliff than be killed by the American soldiers. It is said that the women of the tribe cried tears on the mountain over their fallen men, and their tears turned to stone as they hit the ground. Apache Leap Mountain is where this took place, it located in Southeastern Arizona. It is quite beautiful there. You can read more about the legend here. Because of this lore, it is said to assist with grief and loss. 

Another beautiful stone for grief support is Dravite, or Champagne Tourmaline. It is a dark brown Tourmaline, and it is wonderful to help ground and emote. And also it is wonderful for self-care and self-love, which are two things most of find difficult in times of emotional struggle.

I am also fond of Smoky Quartz for grief support as it is a strong protector and grounder. Remember that most of our fears of emoting and feeling grief is feeling out of control, or that once we start crying we will not stop. These black stones actually help you feel safe, secure and allow you to emote. It also protects your feelings from others. Think of how vulnerable we feel when we are emotional or grieving. If we see a Hallmark commercial, we burst into tears. Well, these dark stones--Dravite, Smoky Quartz and Apache Tear--help protect your EMF and keep your feelings to yourself.

I also include heart stones in grief mojo bags or grids. Some great stones to includes are Rhodochrosite, Rose Quartz, Green Aventurine, and Garnet, which is not usually put into the mix here with grief, but I think it is a wonderful ally.

So, you have these stones, now what? I love to gift a mojo bag of stones to a friend who has just lost a relative, friend or pet. But grief is not limited to the death of someone. We experience grief when our marriage falls apart, or we lose a job, or get sick and face a new way of living. Grief experience should not be limited to one experience of grief--death. So, yes, MOJO BAGS! It is a great support. I also love to create grids for my friends who are experiencing grief or death anniversaries. And send them distance Reiki. I always ask permission (Number one rule of energy work!).

mercury retrograde

Since today (February 6, 2014) kicks off a three-week Mercury Retrograde period, I decided to cover some stones to help you deal with the unnerving effects of this period. 

What is Mercury Retrograde? It is actually a giant planetary optical illusion. All planets revolve around the Sun, but there are times when it appears from Earth, because of our motion around the Sun, that a planet will stop and go backwards, then stop again and move forward, or go direct. This isn't happening at all. It is physics. Think of when you are at a stop light, and are rolling forward very slowly, and the car next to you is moving more slowly than even you, it actually can appear that the other car is rolling backward. We are actually overtaking Mercury on the orbital highway, so to speak, so this is why Mercury seems to move backward. All planets move around the Sun in orbits, but because Earth perceives this retrograde, astrologers believe it affects us Earthlings. By the way, this happens to all planets from our point of view on planet Earth.  In the beginning of 2014, Venus went Retrograde, and astrologers suggested that we not get any new hairstyles, or changes in our appearance. "No plastic surgery!" they warned, since Venus rules appearances and beauty. Mercury is perhaps the most well-known retrograde, because it happens three times a year, and is closest to the Sun. 

Mercury is the messenger God in Ancient Greek mythology, and so the planet rules communications--electronic, telephone and in person communication. It affects electronics, or those things that deliver messages (messengers). So computers go on the fritz, phones drop in toilets. Last summer, my dishwasher had a wee clog, and my husband pulled it out to fix it, lost a little itty bitty screw, and we had to buy a whole new dishwasher (apparently, they don't sell just the screw. Go figure). Mercury Retrograde warns not to sign any contracts. I signed our house contract during the last Mercury Retrograde in November, and I can attest that it was a nightmare (still is a nightmare). We have confusions, misunderstandings, arguments, taking things personally...oy. So, any texts, emails or communications you receive during this time, breathe. Apply the Four Agreements--be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't assume. Do your best.

One of my mentors and favorite teachers Athena from Sage Goddess actually enjoys Mercury Retrograde. Read her wonderful article on it. I wouldn't exactly say I enjoy it, but I have learned the hard way to respect the power of Mercury Retrograde, and work with the energy through crystal healing. It truly is a time to slow down. Do your homework on any project. We don't make decisions impulsively in Mercury Retrograde. We plod along, which ultimately serves our Highest Good. It can be a wonderful period of reflection, self-care and bear medicine.

I would avoid making plans during this period. As they say, "We plan, and God laughs." This is particularly true during Mercury Retrograde, so just bow out politely, or be non-committal. If you don't want to say, "It's Mercury Retrograde! ARE YOU NUTS?!?" Just say that you are taking time for yourself right now. There is nothing wrong with that. You deserve time alone. My suggestion, if you are interested in Astrology and the moon cycles, is also to see how this Retrograde period is interacting with the rest of the sky. This piece describes the way Mercury Retrograde manifests in each sign. This cycle we are in Aquarius (until the 18th of February) and then in Pisces for a few days is about freedom and independence and intellectual battles. This does help tailor our stones too.

But let's get a base line for what stones to use in a Mercury Retrograde. Firstly, we want to use some grounding stones to help us focus on our connection with Mother Earth and our inner Higher Selves. Any Retrograde period can make us feel turned around, which causes us to feel ungrounded. For this, I suggest Hematite + Pyrite as a combination. In the last few months, I have felt strongly that these two metallic stones work in harmony as a kind of Yin Yang grounding couple, actually functioning as two sides of the plug, so to speak, into Mother Earth. Working with Hematite alone can be very beneficial as well. You don't have to have everything I suggest to make this work, just use what you have and improvise. If I say grounding stone, and you only have obsidian, use it! I also love Smoky Quartz for this time period, and a Smoky Citrine is even better. Smoky Quartz is a wonderful enhancer and ally when working with other stones, so I love seeing this in a grid with other other Mercury Retrograde stones. I always suggest Black Tourmaline for an EMF absorber,and so consider it during this time period when electronics go haywire!

Because Mercury Retrograde rules communication, it only stands to reason that we use Throat Chakra stones like Aquamarine, Blue Lace Agate, Hemimorphite, Amazonite, and my favorite for Mercury Retrograde is Fluorite, often called the stone of the student. It really helps with clarity and understanding. 

So, how do we work with these stones in a Mercury Retrograde period? We can carry some grounding stones with communication stones in a little mojo bag. I don't like to carry more than three stones at one time. So maybe Hematite, Smoky Quartz and Aquamarine in a mojo bag. Or Blue Lace Agate, Smoky Quartz and Ametrine. You can wear some grounding jewelry. I was actually thinking of creating some Mercury Retrograde earrings to wear during this period! But wearing some gemstone bracelets like Hematite, or Black Tourmaline with an Amazonite, might be a wonderful way to work with these stones' energies. You can sleep with them, carry them in your pocket, bathe with them, drink them in a gem water (be sure to check a toxic stone list before doing this. Black Tourmaline is not recommended for waters.) My favorite way to work with stones during  a time period is to create a grid that holds the energy and counteracts some of the effects of Mercury Retrograde. 

An easy and helpful grid for ANY time of the year, but particularly Mercury Retrograde, is a grounding grid. I suggest this grid for businesses where lots of energies are coming and going or for time periods that are chaotic, like moving house, or job changes. 


You can also connect this grid to a larger room or house grid by connecting the stones. I used a center stone of Black Tourmaline on a flower of life grid cloth for lower chakras. Radiating from the center are six spokes of black tourmaline rods into a stone, then the other six spokes are Black Obsidian Arrowheads pointing INTO the center of the grid. We are directing energy within, rather than outward. This is important when you want to ground your energy. Out from the Arrowheads are Hematite and Pyrite like the two holders of the reigns of that energy. it is a simple and easy grid. I also sage when doing this grid and sometimes do a Shamanic Journey to have guidance on what stones or animals to use in grounding. I also have this bust of my Spirit Guide that I use to include him in my work during this time period of Mercury Retrograde. I don't think communication mix-ups happen to you and your guides during Mercury Retrograde.

I also love working with the Medicine Wheel grids for grounding and spiritual connection to ancestor work, Mother Earth and all living beings. This would be a wonderful grid for the Mercury Retrograde period.

This is a large Medicine Wheel grid I put together for meditation work I was performing for grieving mothers.

This is a large Medicine Wheel grid I put together for meditation work I was performing for grieving mothers.

This grid is as ancient as the people, I believe in my heart of hearts. It is aligned on to magnetic North, and contains a symbol of all the elements. It is truly a working altar, so to speak, and a connector to all the Elements and Mother Earth. Starting East, the direction of Air, dawn, new beginnings, I used Citrine, a feather, sacred tobacco as the herbal offering, and incense; South, direction of Fire, passion and completion, I used Red Jasper, sage as the sacred offering; in the West, the direction of Water, reflection, emotions and contemplation, I used Black Obsidian Arrowheads, this time pointing outward, the sacred offering of Cedar, a bowl of water, and a shell; in the North, the direction of Earth, I used Clear Quartz (though Howlite is traditional, as well as Snowy Quartz), the sacred offering of Sweetgrass, and Wood. I actually used Clear Quartz in the center, and Selenite for the spokes and direction markers.

This next grid I designed specifically for Mercury Retrograde:


mercury retrograde grid.JPG
mercury retrograde grid2.JPG

This grid's center is a Fluorite pillar. I put a mirror underneath the Fluorite to amplify its energy, radiating out are six double terminated clear quartz crystals with Amazonite, and Fluorite again around the edge. Because I only had four Fluorite tumblies, I used two larger magenta Fluorite pieces on the North/South axis on this grid. The Octahedron is particularly special to me. On the other spokes around the outer edge are Hematite, and inner grid are Pyrite. 

Play. Use your intuition. Work with different crystals that are special to you. Whatever you do, share your grids and crystals here. I'd love to see what you are doing for Mercury Retrograde.