Today’s Quiz: Are You Energy-Sensitive?

Are You Energy-Sensitive? Quiz

If you have ever found yourself getting irritated or depressed for no  apparent reason after spending time with certain people, the answer may be  simple: you may be a sensitive, absorbing or reacting to energy from these  individuals that isn’t healthy for you.

Answer these questions to see if this could be true for you, and then find  out what to do about it so you don’t continue to feel depleted or irritable when  you’re around these people.

1. Do you frequently feel angry, nervous, tense, or irritable around certain  people?

2. Do you often feel sad, low-energy, drained, or lethargic when you are  around some individuals?

3. Do you ever find yourself wanting to lie or cover-up around specific  people?

4. Do you frequently find yourself folding your arms over your midsection  when you are with certain people in your life?

5. Do you often feel ill-at-ease or uncomfortable with some individuals?

6. Does the mere sight of some people cause you to feel instantly defensive  or angry?

7. Do you find yourself inwardly groaning when you hear a specific person’s  voice on the phone?

The more questions you answered “yes” to, the more sensitive you probably  are.

Most of us are unconsciously influenced by others’ energies. These energies  are what they are, neither good nor bad–but some may be beneficial, and some  detrimental to us. The extent to which you are affected is a sign of your  sensitivity. Becoming aware of the energy-effects of interactions is a  wonderful first step in becoming more conscious, and in undoing the negative  effects of others’ energies on us.

If you think you are being adversely affected when you are in the company of  certain people’s energy fields, here are some things you can do:

If you are around someone whose energy makes you feel drained:

1.  Move away from the person.

2. Politely cut the interaction short.

3.  Redirect the person’s attention.

If you find yourself feeling irritable around someone:

1. First,  realize that you do not need to take this personally. Simply notice, “This is  someone who makes me feel prickly.”

2. Ground yourself. This can be as  simple as just placing your hands on the ground, or as complex as doing a brief relaxation and grounding exercise.

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A Little Humor for Your Day – 25 Signs You’ve Grown Up

25 Signs You’ve Grown Up

1. Your house plants are alive, and you can’t smoke any of them.

2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.

3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.

5. You hear your favorite song on an elevator.

6. You watch the Weather Channel.

7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of hook up and break up.

8. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.

9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as “dressed up.”

10. You’re the one calling the police because those damn kids next door won’t turn down the stereo.

11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.

12. You don’t know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

13. Your car insurance goes down and your payments go up.

14. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonalds leftovers.

15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

16. You no longer take naps from noon to 6 PM.

17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle, your stomach.

19. You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.

20. A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer “pretty good stuff.”

21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.

22. “I just can’t drink the way I used to,” replaces, “I’m never going to drink that much again.”

23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.

24. You no longer drink at home to save money before going to a bar.

25. You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that this doesn’t apply to you.”

Funny Humor

 

The Law (Humor)

                                          THE LAW
by Rosemary Edgehill
The Law was made and ardane about a week from last Wednesday.
The  Law was made for the Wiccca,  in order that they should develop a
nice longhand style from copying it.

TheWicccashouldgive dueworshiptotheGodz, presumingthey
believe the Godz exist and aren’t just metaphors; and obey Their Will,
which the HPS of  the Coven will make up as she goes along, for it was
made   for the purpose of ego-tripping  and wild parties.  The worship
of the  Wiccca is good for the owners of Occult Supply Stores, for the
owners of  Occult Supply Stores love the money of the Wiccca.

Asa manlovetha womanusingthe missionaryposition, sothe
Wiccca should shaft their fellows  and other total strangers frequent-
ly.    And it  is necessary that the Magick  Circle which is the prin-
cipal difference between  a Wicccan rite and a frat  party be cast and
all  Wiccca properly  purified  to enter  it so  they  can drink  five
gallons of Ripple each  and not throw up.

TheHPSshallr/u/i/n/ rulehercovenasthe localrepresenta-
tive  of  the Goddess,  and choose whomever she is  sleeping with this
week to be her HP…or her Maiden.

Andremember that the Wiccca would have it that The God
Himself kissed her feet and gave  up the position of Ringmaster to her
because  of her arbitrariness  and autocracy, her  spite and unreason,
her  mysteriousness and ignorance: so the HP  is expected to go as far
away as possible and not even show up for Sabbats.

It is the greatest virtue of a HPS that she turn as many of her
Covenors into closet  Xtians as  possible, for the  true HPS  realizes
that anyone with the sense Goddess gave  a goose is not going to stick
around without having a death wish.
*       *       *       *       *
In  the Olden  Days when  Wiccca extended  far, we  were free  and had
reservations  in all the best restaurants.   But these days, we eat at
McDonald’s.

SO BE IT ARDANE, that nonebut the Wiccca shall ever be
invited to   dinner, for  people who ignore us  are many, and  if they
ever found out what we are really up to, they would giggle.

SO BE ITARDANE, that no Coven shall knowwhere the next Coven
bide, nor who its member be, save anybody who looks in Circle Newslet-
ter and the hit team we send out to sanction them.

SOBEITARDANE, thatnoone shalltellanyoneanything, least
of  all  thy fellows  in the  Craft, for  fear one  of you  will learn
something; because as it is truly writ: Gerald wrote it, I believe it,
that settles it.

Andif anybreakthese Laws,theywill havetostart theirown
Tradition and make up their own Grandmother.

Leteach HPSgovernherCoven asshedamn’well please,riding
rough-shod over the Covenors as long as they will stand for.

Butitmust berecognized thatsooner orlater theywill get
mad and  stop bringing the Ripple  to Coven meetings.   When this hap-
pens, it hath ever been the Old Law that the HPS will Elevate  them to
the Third Degree and kick them  out, and promise them the rest  of the
Book…someday.

Anyone ofanydegree ornonemay founda Coven,providedthey
think  they can get  away with it  and can create  a convincing Grand-
mother.

They mayraidother Covensformembers aslongas nooneknows
where to find them.

But splitting the Covenoft means new opportunities for
evading the consequences of your  actions, so the wise HPS  will think
of it first.

*       *       *       *       *

If you should keep  a Black Book, let it be in your own hand of write,
except for the parts you xerox out of Lady Sheba.  Or better yet, tell
everybody they’re not of a high enough degree to see it.

ProclaimyourWicccahoodloudly, andoften;youmaybe ableto
do a brisk trade in spells, psychic fairs, and talk  shows.  If nobody
believs you,  try holding a public skyclad circle.  If all else fails,
hire a  press agent and advertise  in the National Inquirer.   If they
try to  make you  talk of the  Brotherhood, lay  it on with  a trowel.
Ancient Atlantis is always good  for a five-minute spot on the  six o’
clock news.   Not all interviewers  are bad; some may  even flash your
business address on the screen for a few seconds.

*       *       *       *       *

To  avoid discovery, let your working  tools be ordinary stuff such as
any may have around the house: AR-15’s, Patton Tanks, Howitzers (let’s
see how  far we  can stretch  that First Amendment,  gang!).   Have no
names or signs on  anuything, and  remove the ones they came with,  as
otherwise this can lead to a charge of receiving stolen property.

LetthePentacles bemadeof waxunlesssomethingelse ismore
convenient.

Haveno sword, unlessyou are inthe SCA ora collector of
WWII memorabilia.

Writethe namesand signson agummed labelsothat itcan be
peeled off immediately afterwards; remember that not guilty by  reason
of insanity is not a valid defense in cases of this kind.

Everrememberthatyou aretheHiddenChildrenof theGoddess;
when you can take time out from Karma Dumping Runs, Psychic Vendettas,
Banishing each  other from the  Coven and discussing  how much fun  it
would be  to persecute  the Xtians, remember  never to do  anything to
disgrace Her.  Or Them, if that’s possible.

*       *       *       *       *

In the Olden Days, when we had Power, we could use the Art against any
who ill-treated us; but these days a whispering campaign works better.
Remember always  that there are a  lot of flaky people  out there, and
for this reason  it is best to give a fake  name and a Post Office Box
address.  Someone is always going to blame you for something.

SO BEIT ARDANE: HARMNONE, or atleast have agood alibi.
Never  break this law,  or people who  get burned along  with you will
come after you with baseball bats, and you will never be able to score
any decent hash again.

AnyHPSwho doessomethingyou don’tlikeyou canwalkout on,
but be sure to clout the Coven Book  on the way to the door and set up
in business for yourself (Learn Witchcraft From The Experts!).

Always accept money for use of the Art, but keep an eye on the
Gypsy Laws.  In some states, Barter works better.  All may use the Art
for their own advantage; remember, quick and dirty works best, and you
can lay  off Karma on the Coven.  If  that doesn’t work, try dead cats
in the mailbox.

*       *       *       *       *

‘Tis the Old Law and most important of all the Laws that no one may do
anything that will endanger any of the Craft.  Unless there’s money in
it, or it’s to someone  you think deserves it, and anyway,  “endanger”
is in the eye of the beholder.

In anydispute betweenthe Wiccca,no onemayinvoke anyLaw
but that  of the Craft.   However, you can break  into your opponent’s
home and mess  up his stuff.. after all, it says right here they can’t
go to the Police.

Neverbargain orhaggle whenyou buybythe Art;most Occult
Store owners  will just  throw you  out and  everyone else will  think
you’re a nut.

*       *       *       *       *

It is ever  the way  with men and  with women that  they are ruled  by
their glands.  At any moment  your HPS may run off and become  a Rosi-
crucian.   And the way of  Resignation is this: if  she doesn’t answer
her phone for two weeks and is  never home when you drive by, you  can
declare her  outcast from the Coven and take it over yourself, with as
many  as will have you.  But if  she comes back she will probably take
of the  Coven again,  or start  another one in  the same  building and
declare you Invalid, and there’s  not much you can do about  it. Learn
to live with anxiety.  Get everything in writing.

*       *       *       *       *

It hath  been found that  two people sitting  around with a  bottle of
Chianti   discussing Atlantean  Grandmothers will become  fond of each
other, if only  because of the Stockholm Syndrome.   Therefore, let it
be resolved that  a human being shall  be taught in the  Craft only by
another  human  being, and  screw  the  middle-class morality  of  the
nineteen-fifties.

*       *       *       *       *

And  the Curses  of the  Mighty Ones be  on all  who try  to take this
seriously,  or the Craft seriously,  or the Wiccca  seriously.  Caveat
Lector, and May The Force Be With You!

I Want To Be 6 Again…..

I Want To Be 6 Again…..

 

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby officially tender my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of a 6 year old again. I want to go to McDonald’s and think that it’s a four star restaurant. I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks. I want to think M&Ms are better than money, because you can eat them. I want to play kickball during recess and paint with watercolors in art. I want to lie under a big Oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summers’ day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, addition tables and simple nursery rhymes, but that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care. When all you knew was to be happy because you didn’t know all the things that should make you worried and upset.

I want to think that the world is in my youth… I matured and I learned too much. I learned of nuclear weapons, war, prejudice, starvation and abused children. I learned of lies, unhappy marriages, suffering, illness, pain and death I learned of a world where men left their families to go and fight for our country, and returned only to end up living on the streets…begging for their next meal. I learned of a world where children knew how to kill … and did!!

What happened to the time when we thought that everyone would live forever, because we didn’t grasp the concept of death, when we thought the worst thing in the world was if someone took the jump rope from you or picked you last for kickball?

I want to be oblivious to the complexity of life and be overly excited by little things once again. I want to return to the days when reading was fun and music was clean. When television was used to report the news or for family entertainment and not to promote sex, violence and deceit. I remember being naive and thinking that everyone was happy because I was. I would walk on the beach and only think of the sand between my toes and the prettiest seashell I could find. I would spend my afternoons climbing trees and riding my bike. I didn’t worry about time, bills or where I was going to find the money to fix my car. I used to wonder what I was going to do or be when I grew up, not worry about what I’ll do i this doesn’t work out. I want to live simple again I don’t want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness and loss of loved ones. I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind and making angels in the snow.

I want to be 6 again.

 

Author Unknown

Daily Motivator for January 1 – New, improved year

New, improved year

There’s one key factor that will make this New Year the best one ever. That  important factor is your attitude.

The way you most consistently decide to see life will play a major role in  the way your life actually unfolds. Right now, as the year begins, make the  choice to make your life, and your whole world, the best it can be.

Create a new, improved year by going through it with a new, improved outlook  on life. Make this a great year by choosing an attitude that reflects your own  unique greatness.

In the year ahead you’ll encounter many obstacles, and yet there’s one  powerful obstacle you don’t ever have to deal with again. That obstacle, the one  you can get rid of for good, is your own negative attitude.

Just because things can often get difficult, doesn’t mean you have to be  difficult. No matter what the situation, a positive, empowering attitude is  always your best choice.

Stride confidently forward with the highest and best expectations you’ve ever  had. Your life this year is what you make it, so embrace an attitude that will  make it positive, fulfilling and great.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

New Year’s Resolutions….Well Did Anyone Make Any?

Ok, out with’em! What resolutions did you make this year or did you? If you did would you like to share some of them with us. We want tell anyone I promise, lol! Here’s mine, the only problem it needs to be woman without the beard, lol!

But after reading the paragraph I just wrote it probably should have been this one…..

More New Year Resolutions Comments

Lighten Up – I Want To Be 6 Again…..

I Want To Be 6 Again…..

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby officially tender my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of a 6 year old again. I want to go to McDonald’s and think that it’s a four star restaurant. I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks. I want to think M&Ms are better than money, because you can eat them. I want to play kickball during recess and paint with watercolors in art. I want to lie under a big Oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summers’ day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, addition tables and simple nursery rhymes, but that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care. When all you knew was to be happy because you didn’t know all the things that should make you worried and upset.

I want to think that the world is in my youth… I matured and I learned too much. I learned of nuclear weapons, war, prejudice, starvation and abused children. I learned of lies, unhappy marriages, suffering, illness, pain and death I learned of a world where men left their families to go and fight for our country, and returned only to end up living on the streets…begging for their next meal. I learned of a world where children knew how to kill … and did!!

What happened to the time when we thought that everyone would live forever, because we didn’t grasp the concept of death, when we thought the worst thing in the world was if someone took the jump rope from you or picked you last for kickball?

I want to be oblivious to the complexity of life and be overly excited by little things once again. I want to return to the days when reading was fun and music was clean. When television was used to report the news or for family entertainment and not to promote sex, violence and deceit. I remember being naive and thinking that everyone was happy because I was. I would walk on the beach and only think of the sand between my toes and the prettiest seashell I could find. I would spend my afternoons climbing trees and riding my bike. I didn’t worry about time, bills or where I was going to find the money to fix my car. I used to wonder what I was going to do or be when I grew up, not worry about what I’ll do i this doesn’t work out. I want to live simple again I don’t want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness and loss of loved ones. I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind and making angels in the snow.

I want to be 6 again.

Author Unknown

Daily OM for August 15th – Sweetening a Sour Apple

Sweetening a Sour Apple

When a Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch

by Madisyn Taylor

When dealing with negative people we can choose not to respond to their behavior and allow our positive behavior be an example.

Because life requires that we interact with different personalities, it is not uncommon for us to encounter a situation where there is one person whose behavior may negatively impact the experiences of others. Someone who is loud and crass can interrupt the serenity of those who come together to practice peace. A disruptive worker can cause rules to be imposed that affect their colleagues’ professional lives. A team member who is pessimistic or highly critical may destroy the morale of their fellow members. And one “bad apple” in your personal life can be a potent distraction that makes it difficult to focus on the blessings you’ve been given and the people who love you.

There may always be people in your life who take it upon themselves to create disruption, foster chaos, stamp out hope, and act as if they are above reproach – even when, in doing so, they put a blight on their own experiences. But you don’t need to allow their negativity and callousness to sour your good mood. Often, our first impulse upon coming head-to-head with a bad apple is to express our anger and frustration in no uncertain terms. However, bad apples only have the power to turn our lives sour if we let them.

If you can exercise patience and choose not to respond to their words or actions, you will significantly limit the effect they are able to have on you and your environment. You can also attempt to encourage a bad apple to change their behavior by letting your good behavior stand as an example. If your bad apple is simply hoping to attract notice, they may come to realize that receiving positive attention is much more satisfying than making a negative impression. While you may be tempted to simply disassociate yourself entirely from a bad apple, consider why they might be inclined to cause disturbances. Understanding their motivation can help you see that bad apples are not necessarily bad people. Though bad apples are a fact of life, minimizing the impact you allow them to have upon you is empowering because you are not letting anyone else affect the quality of your experiences. You may discover that buried at the very heart of a bad apple is a seed of goodness.

Crone’s Corner – APPLE DIVINATION

Crone’s Corner – APPLE DIVINATION

If a girls peels an apple in one long piece at midnight on Halloween, and then tosses the peel over her left shoulder or into a bowl of water, she will be able to read the first initial of her future partner’s name in the shape assumed by the discarded peel.

* If a girl peels an apple at midnight on Halloween and hangs the peel on a nail by the front door, the initials of the first man to enter will be the same as those of her unknown lover.

* If a group of unmarried boys and girls each attach an apple to a string and twirl the apple over a fire, the order in which the apples fall off the string indicates the order in which they will all be married. The owner of the last apple to drop will remain unmarried.

* In a group of unmarried boys and girls, each person marks an apple and places it in a large bucket of water, along with unmarked apples. Without using their hands, the teens attempt to take bites out of the apples floating in the water. The teen is fated to marry the person whose apple they bite. Another variation of this custom consists of hanging the apples from strings tied to a tree.

 

GrannyMoon’s Morning Feast Archives

A Walk on the Wild Side: A Lifetime Finding Magick in Nature

by L. Lisa Lawrence

When I sit back and try to identify my first significant spiritual experiences, I can’t come up with just one but rather a series of experiences that share a common bond of nature and wilderness. These experiences span my entire lifetime and began when I was too young to understand them.

I was blessed to grow up on the coast. Some of my earliest memories involve running along the waterline dodging the incoming waves picking up seashells, building sand castles and watching the Pacific Ocean crash onto the rocks and cliffs sending its salty spray skyward. I remember the sun setting over the Channel Islands painting the sky orange, pink and purple. I was never as happy anywhere as I was where I could experience the sand, wind, water and blazing sun.

As a small child, barely 3 years old, my heart stopped beating as a result of respiratory arrest induced by an asthma attack while running on my beloved beach. I can’t recall any “white light,” dead relatives or even the paramedics restarting my heart with an intracardiac epinephrine injection, but I did know that my life ended and began again at the edge of the sea. From that day on, I would always be tied to the water. I was literally reborn to it.

Later, farther north on the coast, as an adolescent drawn to the beach and water, I defied my parents and climbed down a treacherous trail from cliffs to the beach below, only to be trapped in a cave by the incoming tide for several hours. I was not afraid but was at peace, knowing that the never-ending cycle of the moon and sea would let me go home when the time was right. I explored the labyrinth of caves and discovered bats, otters and sea lions that were more than willing to share their space with me and didn’t seem the least bit disturbed by my presence. Time stood still while I was in those caves. When I emerged, I was shocked to see the sun setting, and I made my ascent back up the cliff. I returned to those caves many times when I needed a place to just be — although after getting in trouble for worrying my parents, I learned to check the tide tables first.

When I got older and began to expand my geographic horizons, I discovered the foothills, forests and mountains. As a teenager, I rode the bus from my small costal town up into the foothills to work at a fancy inn’s riding stable on weekends and vacations, shoveling horse poop and guiding trail rides for a mere $15 a day, unlike my friends who were working at McDonald’s or in a fashion store in the mall. My reward for all the sore muscles, sunburn, saddle sores and blisters was being able to escape into the hills on my horse, alone. The pressures of a challenging academic program, teen angst and a dysfunctional family disappeared as my chocolate brown gelding and I ascended the steep hills and galloped across meadows with the wind blowing through our hair. Almost every evening, I watched the setting sun turn the Topa Topa Bluffs a bright pink and listened to crickets and coyotes sing a welcoming song to the twilight. I was at peace. I was at home. Only reluctantly would I come down out of the hills, walk two miles to the bus stop and take the hour long ride back down the hill to “real life.”

On the outside, I appeared quite “normal”; I was popular, excelled at sports, held elected office, did well in my classes and was involved in community theater, a church youth group and journalism. But I knew that I was different and often needed to escape to nature, which was the only place that I truly felt at peace. At that point in my life, I didn’t know anyone else that was like me, so being a typical teenager, I just did my best to fit in. I would soon discover that denying your true nature doesn’t work.

If I hadn’t already figured out on my own that I was “different,” it was brought home to me in junior high school when our Methodist Youth Fellowship youth group took a religion test. We were presented with a series of statements and were asked if we agreed or disagreed and on a scale of one to five how strongly we felt about it. Our answers resulted in a numerical score that correlated to a specific religion. Out of the 14 that took the test, 13 scored “First United Methodist,” and I scored “Unitarian.” I’m certain that “pagan,” “witch” and “tree-hugging dirt worshiper” were not included on the test, and that I had, in fact, received the lowest score possible. In our small costal town, the Unitarians were “those pagans on the hill who drink wine and have naked hot tub parties” and were not thought highly of by other churches.

After graduating from high school with honors as part of a group of friends who composed a Who’s Who of well-adjusted overachievers, then graduating from college with a degree in accounting, I spent a year and a half trying to do what was expected of me by taking a stable government job. I tried to force myself to work in a concrete and glass climate-controlled building, and in true overachiever fashion I became the youngest-ever deputy treasurer for the County of Ventura. It wasn’t me. I just couldn’t take it. At the tender young age of 21, I ran off to go fight fires for the Forest Service.

It was there that I found others who also loved nature and needed to be in it as much as possible. Every morning, I would take long hikes in the mountains, encountering bears, mountain lions and eagles that did not react to me as if I was an intruder, but rather as if I belonged there. It was there that I began to have visions of the spirits of the land and to understand my connection to the earth and the meaning of my dreams. I was finally free to be myself and even had others with whom I could openly discuss these things.

Soon, I became a liaison between the federal land management agencies and the local Native American tribes. Tribe members invited me to sacred ceremonies, and elders taught me because they recognized my connection to and dedication to the land. During my time and travels with the Forest Service and Park Service, I was accepted by several tribes.

But I knew that I didn’t belong. I became confused and discouraged that it was okay for the earth to be your religion if you were Native American, but not if you were white. It was as if I was trapped between worlds, not fitting in either. I knew I could never go back to the church I was raised in, and I felt that I would spend my entire life wandering in the wilderness alone, without those of like mind.

As I questioned and explored more, I discovered that my mostly Celtic ancestors also had a tribal culture that honored the earth and that was quite compatible with what I had been taught by Native Americans. I did as much research as I could, found bookstores, covens and teaching circles when they were available in towns near where I was stationed, and I had many mentors and pen pals (this was in the days before the Internet). I finally learned who the woman was who stood at the foot of my bed when someone died or when there was danger. I had inherited my line’s banshee, who skipped a generation from my grandmother to me. I even finally found my way to a few of those “pagan” Unitarian churches.

My formal training enhanced but never took the place of actually being in and connecting to nature. I stood on mountaintops in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains talking to and honoring the spirits of the land. I sat in sweat lodges in the very womb of the Mother in the Black Hills of South Dakota and had visions that I can’t share here that told me to remain close to the earth. I’ve seen the ancestors in the pueblos of the Southwest and heard the music of the desert.

Each new sacred place in nature taught me a new lesson or introduced me to a new guide; many of them appeared in physical form and would do whatever was necessary to get my attention. High above the Colorado River, a golden eagle buzzed me numerous times and almost knocked me off a 2,000-foot cliff, appearing incensed that I didn’t recognize that it had graced me with its presence and was trying to give me a message. That eagle taught me that there is a message in every encounter and that it is our job to recognize and learn from those messages. It also taught me that the messengers don’t take kindly to being ignored.

I realize that I have come full circle back to the waters of the Pacific. I am blessed to live close to the water and to be able to walk down to it whenever the mood suits me. I often play my fiddle on the water’s edge and find myself in the company of harbor seals, bald eagles and great blue herons. I feel the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and the magick that is all around me. Just as when I was a small child, the water brings me comfort. I experience the elements as sand, wind, sun and salt water, only now I understand what they mean and my connection to them. I am also surrounded by great people who understand as well.

I have met many people over the last 20 years who can be described as “natural witches.” They draw their energy directly from nature, work with herbs and stones for healing and are attuned to the cycles of the earth. Their mysteries come to them directly from nature, and their magick has an organic feel to it. They may or may not have had formal training, but no matter what their experiences, there is something special about them.

My grandmother, a Scorpio, was such a woman, although I don’t think she would have taken kindly to being called a witch; then again, I could be wrong. We never talked about it. She was by all accounts the original “wild woman” and certainly looked the part, with long raven hair cascading around her face and shoulders, reflecting red in the sunlight as she stood in the desert greeting the rising sun. Well into her 60s, she would wander the desert alone in search of stones, herbs and adventure. She lived on her own terms, not giving a rat’s butt what anyone else thought about her, and preferred the company of the earth and its creatures to that of most people. When she did choose the company of others, they were always artists, writers, musicians and other Bohemian types. My mother, in bouts of exasperation with the wild and difficult child I was, often said, “You’re just like your grandmother.” Writer Earl Stanley Gardener wrote a piece about her entitled “The Desert Nightingale.” He knew she was special.

I wish I had been able to recognize and appreciate the magick in her. By the time I grew into an adult and began to understand, she was gone. But her spirit remains in the mountains, desert and ocean, and in me.

How does a woman with a legacy of wildness, whose spirituality is explicitly tied to nature, survive living in an apartment in town? It has been challenging, but it has expanded me.

Six years ago, when I moved to the Pacific Northwest and attended my first indoor circles, I was shocked to find that many groups here held rituals indoors. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could connect with the elements or the gods in a building.

I got over it after experiencing my first winter here. It’s all very well and good to be outdoors, but if your fellow participants are getting pelted with freezing rain, with soaking wet feet in the dark of night, they’re going to be distracted. I work alone and in small circles outside whenever I get the chance, even in crappy weather, but for larger, public events it’s easier to be indoors.

It’s much simpler than I thought to connect to the elements while standing inside a building. Going on a simple guided meditation can connect me to the earth, feeling its coolness, inhaling its heady scent of decomposing leaves and pine needles and reveling in the feeling of fertility. With a little work, something as insubstantial as a few two-by-fours and some shingles isn’t a barrier. If I’m in the proper state of consciousness, it doesn’t even seem to exist.

Even living in a city, wilderness is all around. Wilderness exists at the edge of the water, in a local park or even under a tree in a backyard. I have seen the fey dancing in a hanging basket of flowers on a patio in an apartment complex. The Cascade and Olympic Mountains are a short drive, in a car or on the bus. In a little over two hours, I can be standing on the beach looking out at the vast wilderness that is the Pacific Ocean or across the mountains harvesting sage in the desert.

I have experienced and learned much in the last 20 years from many different sources, but the times in my life spent in direct connection to nature, to the gods, to all this is, without religious structure or human-imposed limitations, have been the most powerful times in my life.

Every place in nature, and in pockets of nature in the city, is sacred. Each place has its own energy, song and spirit guides. Go on… take a walk on the wild side and see where that journey takes you.

8 alarmingly unhealthy snacks to avoid

A muffin with the same amont of calories as 10 chocolate donuts? A pretzel with more saturated fat than a Big Mac? Read this and weep.

In a perfect world, everyone (kids included) would snack on carrots and

kale chips. For those who do, hats off. But for everyone else, once you step away from the produce aisle, the choice of snacks can run the gamut from nutritionally vapid to downright deleterious. And sadly, consumers are often at the mercy of the processed food industry with its seductive yet unhealthy ingredients and powerful marketing machines. It’s all too easy to be swayed by items marketed specifically to children and parents — with enticing prices, misleading labels and the promise of convenience.

But when consumers start to dig a bit, they’ll get a better picture of what’s going on inside the snacks they devour. Following is a snapshot of some of the worst offenders. The list is by no means exhaustive, but these examples provide some clues about what to look out for in the snack aisle.

1. Pop-Secret Homestyle Popcorn

 

Popcorn should be a great snack. It is a whole grain, naturally low in calories, and recent research has found that popped kernels are surprisingly high in antioxidants, even higher than many fruits and vegetables. So where did this super-snack go super-wrong? In the hands of food manufacturers, that’s where. How does this version compare to an order of McDonald’s Kids Fries? A serving of Pop-Secret has 70 more calories, 7 grams more total fat, 2 grams more saturated fat, 4.5 grams more trans fat, and 310 milligrams more sodium than the fried spuds.

Serving size: 2 tablespoons unpopped
Calories: 170
Total fat: 12 grams
Saturated fat: 2.5 grams
Trans fat: 4.5 grams
Sodium: 380 milligrams

2. Cheetos Puffs

 

Nobody ever said that oddly textured cheese snacks were exactly healthy, but something about the non-greasiness and airy quality of Cheetos Puffs (vibrant hue aside) seems like this product might more benign than, let’s say, super salty fried potato chips. But … look at that total fat! That sodium! That’s half the daily fat and sodium limit for many children, right there in 2 ounces of snack.

Serving size: 2 ounces (56 grams)
Calories: 320
Total fat: 20 grams
Saturated fat: 4 grams
Sodium: 700 milligrams

3. Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free (various fruit flavors)

 

Yogurt is another should-be healthy snack that has been hijacked by the food industry. Many yogurts are made to be low- or non-fat but are loaded with added sugar and other ingredients that are completely superfluous.

Whereas a product like Fage 0% is made of only “Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk, and Live Active Yogurt Cultures,” Yoplait Original includes sugar, modified corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, kosher gelatin, and tricalcium phosphate — yet no live and active cultures, which is one of the main reasons to be eating yogurt in the first place!

Serving Size: 1 container (170 grams)
Calories: 170
Total fat: 1.5 grams
Saturated fat: 1 gram
Sodium: 85 milligrams
Sugars: 26 grams

4. Ritz Bits Cracker Sandwiches

 

Cheese and crackers sounds innocuous enough, but a single serving of these guys has more sodium and more than twice the saturated fat, as a small order of Chicken McNuggets — and more sugar than two Hershey’s Kisses.

Serving size: 1 single serve package (42 grams)
Calories: 220
Total fat: 13 grams
Saturated fat 4.5 grams
Sodium: 480 milligrams
Sugars: 6 grams

5. Auntie Anne’s Pepperoni Pretzel Pocket

Whole-wheat low-sodium pretzels are a good snack. Pepperoni Pretzel Pockets are a disaster. With more sodium, saturated fat and calories than a Big Mac, this one snack comes close to serving up the daily sodium and total fat limits for a child, not to mention the equivalent of nearly 3 teaspoons of granulated sugar.

Serving size: 1 pocket
Calories: 650
Total fat: 27 grams
Saturated fat 12 grams
Sodium: 1,120 milligrams
Sugars: 11 grams

6. Mott’s Original Apple Sauce

 

This applesauce might just as well be called “high fructose corn syrup sauce,” given that HFCS is the second ingredient after apples. Why do that to perfectly good apples? Apples aren’t sweet enough?

Serving size: 1/2 cup (128g)
Calories: 110
Total fat: 0
Sugars: 25 grams

Instead, opt for the Mott’s Natural Apple Sauce (No Sugar Added) version, which has only 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar.

7. Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pie

 

With the right spin, some could argue that a piece of pie isn’t the worst snack in the world. A small homemade slice filled with fruit and a light crust has some redeeming qualities. But the Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pie may, in fact, be the worst snack in the world! Why? In addition to its high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, beef fat and artificial colors, it has almost twice the sugar and fat of a similarly sized slice of homemade blueberry pie. And with its cheap price and easy portability, it’s all too easy to scarf down much of your daily calorie requirement in a few bites before you’ve even left the store.

Serving size: 1 pie (128g)
Calories: 520
Total fat: 24 grams
Saturated fat 12 grams
Sugars: 40 grams

8. Winchell’s Cranberry Nut Muffin

What has the same amount of calories as 10 Winchell’s Chocolate Cake Iced Doughnuts and nearly the same amount of fat as three hot dogs? One Winchell’s Cranberry Nut Muffin! To its credit, this muffin is not nutritionally void (5 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein) but just beware: the calories, fat and sugar lodge this item more in the cupcake category than healthy snack family.

Serving size: 1 muffin
Calories: 670
Total fat: 37 grams
Saturated fat: 6 grams
Sodium: 640 milligrams
Sugars: 43 grams

How can you make better choices?

 

Look for snacks that are high in protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, but relatively lower in calories, total fat, saturated fat (no trans fat), sugar and sodium.

Look at the ingredients on the label. Most of us know that ingredients are listed in order from most to least, and we may look to see where something like sugars or fats are listed in the order. But ingredient groups aren’t required to be listed together. So something could contain corn syrup, cane sugar, and malt syrup in seemingly minor quantities toward the bottom of the list — but if you combine them together in a general group of “sugar,” they quickly move to the top.

If a label boasts a product was made with whole grains, check to see where on the ingredient list the word “whole” is. If the first ingredient is “whole” wheat flour (or other grain), that’s good. Sometimes whole grains make up only a tiny fragment of the item, and that’s not good.

Also, it helps to know recommended nutritional limits. Many adults know what their numbers are, and here’s what Mayo Clinic recommends for kids:

Boys and girls 4-8: 1,200-2,000 calories depending on activity, 25-35 percent calories from fat, 1,200 milligrams sodium.

Boys and girls 9-13: 1,400-2,600 calories depending on activity, 25-35 percent calories from fat, 1,300 milligrams sodium.

Boys and girls 14-18: 1,800-3,200 calories depending on activity, 25-35 percent calories from fat, 1,500 milligrams sodium.

Total fat for the categories above: 33 to 47 grams for 1,200 daily calories; 39 to 54 grams for 1,400 daily calories; 44 to 62 grams for 1,600 daily calories; 50 to 70 grams for 1,800 daily calories; 56 to 78 grams for 2,000 daily calories.

 

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