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Struggling Faith: The God Of Green Hope

Digital artist journal page by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy, using our upcoming ArtLife set of digital assets, by Frances and Connla.

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your spiritual life, filled with the life-giving energy of inspiration, will brim over with hope!

I began my arduous search for the God of green hope in February of 2016, following the realization that I had become hopeless.  Clearly, Jesus wasn’t “that guy”, because He and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms by that point.  Lleu Llaw Gyffes wasn’t “that guy”, either, even though I had considered myself a practicing Druid for a number of years previously.  So I began my dive into the Norse Tradition, in hopes of finding “that guy” there.

I had been a “weekend Druid”, but I was anything but a “weekend Heathen”.  From the very start, my journey down the Norse Path led me to daily prayer, weekly blots, and active participation in my newfound Faith.  By June of 2016, I had finally begun to “feel better”, but I still hadn’t fully recovered my hope, nor had I met the God of Green Hope.  A year on, in February of 2017, I still had not found Him/Her/It, and those feelings of quiet desperation began to slowly seep back in, this time compounded by my inability to figure out the “riddle” within that verse that I had been given.

The truth of it was this: I couldn’t find the God of Green Hope because I was looking in all the wrong places.  I was looking outside, when I should have been looking within.

I am the God of Green Hope.  You are the God of Green Hope. We are the God of Green Hope.

I automatically hold anyone suspect who says in a serious tone that they are the god of anything. Sure, people may jokingly say things like “I am the god of homemade tacos”, and I’m perfectly fine with that, because it’s a joke.  But to claim godhood for oneself smacks of a brand of pretentiousness that I have a difficult time fathoming.  It’s part of why I take issue with the writings of Aleister Crowley.  Yet, hear me out.

For a full year, I prayed, participated in rituals, researched, and searched, trying to find that one, great, outside source that would fill me up with joy and fill me up with peace as that passage promised.  A full year, and yet I still felt that I was hanging on the tree.  I looked outside, and outside, and outside, but only on the rarest of occasions did I look within.  And even when I did, my focus was on where I fit into our business, rather than on where I fit into the World.

In March of 2017, I finally looked inside.  The business was tanking yet again, and as I sat in my office literally crying, it finally dawned on me that doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.  So I decided to do something different: instead of shaking my fist at the heavens, I took a deep, long look within. And I discovered something I definitely didn’t want to discover: I was the problem.  The good news was, if I was the problem, I could also be the solution.

Becoming the God of Green Hope:

  • Stop looking back; you aren’t going that way!

Mistakes and triumphs you’ve experienced in the past are precisely that: in the past.  The longer you dwell on either, the more they are allowed to control your present, which in turn leads them to shape your future.  Do you want a future shaped by your past mistakes and triumphs, or do you want a future shaped by you, yourself?

  • Stop mourning, and start celebrating!

Stop mourning all of the things you don’t have, haven’t accomplished, or didn’t do, and instead focus on celebrating what you do have, are accomplishing, and are doing via showing gratitude.  You’re likely great at sitting down and making detailed inventories of things to mourn; take that skill, and instead turn it towards making a detailed inventory of all the things about your life that are actually good.  These don’t have to be big things!  Things for which to be grateful can be as seemingly insignificant as a shockingly blue sky outside your window, or as mindblowing as having your art published on the cover of a popular newsletter or magazine.

  • While you’re making lists, make one of everything that worries you right now.  Read through it, and then discard it, and actually let go.

Worrying is basically looking towards the future with dread, instead of looking towards the future with eager expectancy.  We all do it, and we all have done it, and even after you make this list, discard it, and make a conscious decision to let go of those specific worries, the chances are fantastic you will find a whole new list of things to worry about at some point in the future.  When that happens, you should repeat this exercise.  Worrying is a useless endeavor: all it does is leave you feeling defeated, and make you tired.  It actually accomplishes nothing, so why keep doing it?

  • Rediscover joy.

The marrow of what we really want out of life is locked inside the bones of those things which bring us joy.  Make a third list: a list of everything in your life, no matter how big or small, that actually sparks joy in you.  In case it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten what joy even feels like, these would be things that create a sense of well-being for you; things that make you feel successful or fortunate; things that make you deeply happy or cause you to brim with delight.  Your gratitude list might be a helpful jump-off point for creating this list.  Once you have your list, take some time to actually spend time with these joy-sparkers.

  • Realize that you are enough.

Re-engage with yourself.  The first question too many of us ask when attempting to “find ourselves” is “am I worthy?”  That is an adversarial tone, and we all know what such a tone gets us when we’re talking about exterior human relationships, right?  So why do we think it will go differently with interior ones?   Think about it like this: let’s say you’ve just met a new person with whom you’re considering building a friendship.  What would happen if, upon first meeting them, you introduced yourself by saying “I’m me, and I’m wondering if you’re worthy of being my friend”?  That likely wouldn’t go over terribly well, now, would it?  They would likely find you rude and pretentious, and they wouldn’t be wrong.  So why do we approach our selves that way?  The simple answer: we shouldn’t.  Enough means “occurring in such a quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.”  If you are enough, that means that you are capable of meeting whatever life throws at you halfway.  Look around at your life: you’ve made it this far.  You’re still breathing; you’re still sitting here reading this.  If you’ve made it this far, that is empirical proof that you are enough, and enough is the first important step towards plenty:  a large or sufficient amount or quality; more than enough.

Once you have found the God of Green Hope within you, you should start experiencing more joy and peace in your life.  You may find that you need to do these exercises multiple times–I certainly did–and there’s no shame in that. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately feel as though you have been filled up with joy and peace; that will come with time.  This is just the beginning, and we’ll discuss where to go from here in the next blog post in this series.

 

 

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Craftvana: Mabon Blessings!

Most Pagans do some sort of ritual observance for Mabon: maybe a dinner, ala Thanksgiving for other folks, or a full-blown ritual with candles burning and expressions of gratitude to Deity by all participants. As for me, I took the opportunity to put the crafting back in the phrase “Craft of the Wise”!

retrocolourqueenmabonblessings

Okay, I’ll admit it: I was initially motivated to make this card by the Colour Queen and Retro-Sketch Challenges this week. But the Equinox is the 21st (and/or 22nd) of September (thus, Mabon), and I made this on the Equinox, so this card also served as my observance of Mabon.

The ColourQ palette this week was this:

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That palette simply begged for me to use the papers, ephemera, and vellum Sentiments from my new freebie set, Mabon Blessings. The large sunflowers in the Mabon Blessings ephemera would also be perfect for the sketch this week at Retro-Sketches:

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The card began as a 5 x 5 square Kraft cardstock blank.  I then printed Mabon Blessings Paper 4:Acorn and Oak at 5 x 5, and distressed the edges with my Tim Holtz Tonic Paper Distressor.  That was applied to the front of the card using Glossy Accents from Ranger. The band assemblage consists of a Kraft cardstock remnant, dressed up with washi tape, jute, and baker’s twine.  The large sunflower is from Mabon Blessings Ephemera 1, attached with a pop dot, and the sentiment is from Mabon Blessings Vellum Sentiments (attached with a Pioneer tape runner).  The teeny tiny acorns (which have just a little bit of glitz) are from a set of autumn stickers that I just happened to have on hand.

cqc_360_mabonblessingscard

The process of making the card was like a mini-meditation. As I assembled the pieces, I took the time to ponder all of the things I’m truly grateful for in our lives right now:

  • I’m thankful for the people in my life, who love us so much, and who take care of us, and who I love in return, and try to take care of the best ways I know how.
  • I’m thankful for the turning leaves, as I know they mean a return to cooler and less humid weather, which in turn means more pain-free days for Mishy, me, and the rest of the mice.
  • I’m thankful for these challenges, which keep me creating new things every week, and fuel my passion for paper and graphic design.
  • I’m thankful for each and every one of the wonderful people who have subscribed to our mailing list and liked us on Facebook, and who are reading this blog right now, and for all of your continued support.
  • I’m thankful for the fact that we can bring a little joy and beauty into people’s lives through the papers and ephemera that we design.
  • I’m extremely thankful for all of the beautiful things folks here have said in response to the sets we have offered as free gifts. Those keep me going even on the difficult days.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow this business for Michelle, and perhaps bring her (and us) some much-needed independence in our future.
  • I’m thankful for the time you just took to read this all the way to the end!

Blessed be!

thewarriornewsig

 

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Paper Magick!

There is something absolutely magickal about paper.  For me, there always has been. Take me to Staples or Office Depot, and I am in absolute heaven!  And scrapbook stores, or the scrapbook section at Michael’s, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn’s? You don’t want to take me to those unless you’ve got some serious time to spend. And plenty of storage…..

It’s not so much that I’m an avid scrapper, or even an avid card-maker: I’m just addicted to pretty paper. And I always have been.

As a kid, I literally collected stationery. I played dress-up with tissue paper and things I made out of construction paper and even typing paper.  My first foray into the model horse world actually involved paper horses in my pockets, ala National Velvet. This has been a lifelong addiction.

So why have I waited til now to do anything about it/with it? Well, honestly, it just never occurred to me.  I mean, you would think it would have, given my Mother. Those of you who know her will understand. For those of you who don’t, her family and friends frequently refer to her as the Scrap Queen. It’s a title well-earned.  She doesn’t just spend hours scrapbooking, she is a legit paper architect.  The things she can do with paper often boggle my mind.

I’m also a writer, so a blank piece of paper to me is like a doorway into another world, just waiting to be opened.  If said blank piece of paper just happens to also be beautifully decorated, so much the better. My stories, as they unfold, are like love letters to myself.

When it comes to the more mystical side of my life, as a practicing Druid, paper also plays a roll.  I began doing spellwork when I was sixteen–all of it based in paper magick.  I’ve always excelled at that type of thing.  Even cartomancy (reading Tarot and Oracle cards) has its genesis in paper.

I’ve spent the past two years trying desperately to figure out how all of this fits together–my Tarot Card reading, my more mystical offerings (because I really want to offer still more stuff in that area of my expertise), the digital art of my mice, and my writing–and it finally hit me Friday night as we were sitting on the couch being lumps and watching Now You See MePaper.  Paper is how it all fits together!  My lifelong obsession with the “souls of dead trees” is the key to making my compass stop spinning and finally arrive at magnetic north.

Many of you arrived here because of the Tarot, or because of my more mystical leanings, and have probably never considered scrapbooking or any other type of paper crafting ever in your life.  So our overall “new direction” may be throwing you for a bit of a loop.  You may be thinking “but I signed up for pagan stuff”, or “I signed up for more of your writing”, or “I signed up because I eventually want to have my cards read”.  Trust me, all of that is still here, and it’s still going to be here, I just need you to continue to trust me as we travel together on this slightly bumpy ride.  When I was sixteen, I took my first leap of faith into actual magick: I wanted a guy to call me, so I found a spell that involved writing his name on a circle of parchment, sticking a toothpick through the center of the parchment, and sitting it in the sunshine.  Bingo, he called me the next day.  That leap of faith led to the very magickal/mystical life I’m living right now.  I took that leap of faith alone; this time, I’m bringing all of you along for the ride!

Just pardon our dust as we once again reimagine ourselves based on this latest epiphany.  I promise, it’s mostly pixie dust, and you know how that works, right? Think happy thoughts, and together, we’ll all take flight!