Read an Excerpt
Your Body Is a Temple
• Daily Practice: Little Rituals Everywhere, page 20.
Your Body Is a Sacred Space
Your body is a sacred space. Maybe you've heard this sentiment before. Even if you have, chances are you have never quite believed it. But here it is: your body is the dwelling place of everything that makes you who you are. Your body is home to the amazing physiological and evolutionary alchemical magick that has created you, wholly unique and individual. Written in ancient code, our DNA
carries secrets still undiscovered. Your body is a living ark, holding ancient stories encoded in your very cells.
More than merely a home to your heart and soul, your body is your heart and soul. And, your body is-in a profound way-your mind. The body and mind are not two things, separate and divisible, but one thing. The mind is a process, not an object. It is the amazing, synchronous magick of nerves, tissues, synapses,
hormones, minerals, and molecules working in concert. Memory, desire, choice,
and action are all born of the miraculous dance that is every cell in your body doing exactly what it is meant to do.
Alchemy: A magickal process of transformation that can change the composition of elements.
Systemic: Pertaining to a whole system. In this case, pertaining to your body as a system.
A Magickal Thought: If you can change your mind, you can change anything.
A technique that is used to great effect in counseling, sports, motivational speaking, and even medicine. Guided visualization is also a basic tool for ritual and magick.
Creating change in your body can create instantaneous change throughout the dynamic, living system that is your body/mind/ spirit. Your entire being-your history, your potential, and your amazing ability to overcome adversity and create revolutions of evolution-may well be encapsulated in your very cells.
And, changing the way you think may be the most effective way to create transformation immediately and effortlessly. Remember, thought is an adaptive physiological process replete with systemic feedback. It may be easier than you would think to create a new pattern to the flow.
Our bodies are the vehicles by which we manifest our Will on earth, and they are even more than that. Our bodies are the point of interface where the individual meets up with the rest of creation. In this chapter we will create ways to honor and sanctify this amazing, dynamic vessel that is our most unique and valuable temple.
Magickal Act: Visiting the Temple
This is a guided visualization. If you are not yet familiar with guided visualization, the exercise may take some getting used to. Or it may come naturally to you. Either way, as a Witch it is important to hone your skills of visualization, inner vision, creation, and exploration. The ability to journey inside yourself is a wonderful skill to have, and honing the ability to visualize is one of the most important things you can do to become effective in magick, and even in daily life.
During a guided visualization, you may see a series of images, or you may have the visualization run in your mind like a story line or dream, as one continuous flow. Cultivate nonattachment to how your visualization will present itself.
Allow images to morph, flow, and change. If you find your mind blank for a moment,
allow that blank spot in your journey to exist, and then to pass. Relax into the exercise, and allow yourself to just stay present with the process.
As with any exercise, the more you work on visualization, the more easily it will happen for you. If you feel less than satisfied with the results of a visualization the first time you try it, perform the exercise again. You could also record your voice reading the script, and use that recording.
What You Will Need
Time. Visualization: five minutes; writing and art: twenty minutes, or as long
as you want.
Space where you will be uninterrupted.
Your favorite art supplies.
Essential oils (optional).
Fresh flowers (optional).
For this and other visualization exercises, you will need a space that is peaceful, quiet, and private. Create a time and space that's just for you, where you will be uninterrupted and able to focus. In this guided visualization, you will visit your temple. After this journey you will paint, draw, collage,
sculpt, or otherwise craft an artifact representing your temple, or an image of it. Next you will journal about the visualization, and about creating the artifact, if you choose to. Prepare all the supplies you will need before you begin the exercise. Have paper, writing implements, and art supplies ready. As much as possible, stay in the visualization while you get it down on paper.
Some people prefer to perform guided visualizations lying down, while others prefer sitting up. Choose a position that allows you to relax, and at the same time keeps you alert. If you relax too much, you may lose focus or even drift off to sleep, not that that would be the worst thing. Sometimes it works out fine to sleep during the visualization, and then write down dream images. Staying awake has its benefits, though. A focused visualization is bound to be more fruitful. So, try for alert and relaxed as the ideal state for optimal performance of any guided visualization.
It may help to burn incense during the visualization (see “Blend Three: Inner
Vision” in appendix I). It may also reinforce some prompts to have other scents present. Try a favorite essential oil or perfume, a freshly sliced orange, a chalice of wine, fresh flowers, or anything that makes you ready to enter your temple.
If you are not familiar with the concept of magickal tools, please read the section on magickal tools in appendix I and the sections on tools in part 2,
Rituals I or II, before performing this visualization. The tools you encounter in this visualization may be the same ones listed, or they may be others. Allow them to be what they are, even if you do not understand immediately why they are there or what they represent for you. Do not become attached to finding tools that fit the correspondences in any conscious way. The tools you see in this visualization may be tools you use in everyday life, or they may be things you have never before seen. Remember them. Write down what they are, or create images of them, when you are done with the exercise. You may want to find or create representations of these tools for future use.
You will want to read aloud and record the visualization script beforehand.
Close your eyes and relax. Focus on your breathing. Pulling each breath into your lungs, feel your lungs expand to their fullest capacity. Breathing out,
release any tension you feel in your muscles. As you breathe in again, allow your lungs to become even fuller, pulling your breath deep into your abdomen.
Allow your belly to relax, your ribs to expand, your mind to quiet. As thoughts come to the surface, allow them to gently pass.
As you continue breathing, feel yourself gently and slowly becoming present in your body. Feel the energy flowing through your muscles. Become aware of the rhythmic beating of your heart. Notice the steady, gentle rhythm of your breath.
Follow your breath, and the beating of your heart, deeper into a state of total relaxation. Become aware of the fluidity of your body. Allow your awareness to expand. Allow the boundaries of your body to become less defined. Continue breathing, gently and rhythmically, as your consciousness becomes more fluid.
Relaxed and present, allow yourself to see, in your mind's eye, a temple in the distance. This is your temple. This temple may be a building, or perhaps it has no walls. Is it a grove? A lake? A clearing with a river running through it?
Perhaps it is a desert under the night sky. Maybe it's made of rock, or metal.
Does it have walls of cloth? It may be a structure built entirely of thought.
Is your temple surrounded by land? By water? Are there plants growing? Your temple may be surrounded by a garden, or perhaps your temple is, itself, a garden.
Begin to approach your temple. As you move toward this sacred space, notice the air around you. Are there scents? Do you smell earth, or rain? Flowers, water,
smoke? Perhaps you smell some ancient scent, copal or other resins, burning on the incense censer.
Keep walking, and enter your temple. Is there a door to pass through? Maybe there is a certain plant that lets you know that you are now inside your sanctuary.
As you continue moving forward, you are passing the threshold. This space is dedicated entirely to you. This is the passage into your own center, your inner sanctum. Breathe in the air of your own sacred space, and let it fill you with your own consecrated energies.
Look around you. What do you see? A throne? A bed? Books? Tools? What colors adorn your inner sanctum? How have the scents around you changed? Perhaps you smell the scent of flowers, or of soil, metal, warm wood, or sweat-misted skin.
Is your temple warm, or is there a gentle, cooling breeze? Is it summer here?
Spring? Winter? Autumn? Day, or night?
You see an altar, and walk toward it. Notice what is on your altar. You see tools before you, laid out and ready for use. These tools have been waiting for you to pick them up. You remember, perhaps, how these tools feel in your hands.
Remember these tools, these artifacts, these adornments. They are yours. Kneel at your altar, and give thanks to your divine self for knowing exactly what these tools are, how to use them, and why they are essential to your manifestation of Love and Will.
Allow yourself to look around again, noticing the beauty, the depth, the mystery that surrounds you. Even you do not know everything that this temple holds. Some things are hidden from sight, your own secrets that will unfold for you at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place. You are safe here, even to face your deepest fears. But for now, you will relax and enjoy the amazing beauty and comfort of this place. This temple. Your temple.
Breathe, knowing that this temple is always here. You are always in it. This temple is you, and you are it.
Allow yourself to feel this temple settle into your flesh, your blood, your bones. Allow your breath to sustain it, your blood to nourish it. And follow your breath, your blood, the beating of your heart, slowly back to consciousness.
Fasting as a Spiritual Practice: Fasting is a practice that has been employed as a component of spiritual seeking, ritual, and initiation cycles in most every culture. Fasting can be an amazing way to get in touch with the Divine, to create space in our lives for personal growth, and to reprogram our response cycles. (Note: Fasting is not recommended for anyone who has experienced eating disorders.)
When you feel ready, gently open your eyes, and chronicle the story of this visit to your temple with words and images.
Honoring Our Bodies
There are many ways that we own, disown, honor, and ignore our bodies. We train ourselves to override our physical needs, communications, and impulses. We attempt to fit our bodies to a strict standard that doesn't work for all of us.
We sometimes value appearance over function.
At times it can be helpful to be able to override physical needs (if you are being stalked by a tiger, or trying to outlive a famine), but for the most part,
the ongoing battle against our bodies, against our desires, and against nature has lead us nowhere good.
Journaling Prompts: Honoring the Sacred Temple
What are some of the ways that you dishonor or mistreat your body?
What are some of the ways that you claim and honor your body?
Of these self-honoring activities, which could you do more of?
What other self-honoring activities could you claim as your own?
Magickal Act: Creating an Altar to You! Invoking Self-Love
Who better to love than yourself? Here is a great way to invest some time,
energy, and devotion in the person most central to your experience of life-you!
Make an altar to yourself. This altar will be a reminder to honor your body (the temple that you carry with you at all times) and your power and sensuality.
Set up your altar someplace where you will see it often, but make sure the space is private enough that you will feel comfortable leaving it up when guests are over. Placing it on top of a dresser or any other surface in your bedroom is a good idea, but if that is too public, you can set it up in your closet. If you want to be reminded more often of your desire to honor yourself, put the altar where you will see it all day long, like in your living room. If you choose a more public place for your altar, make sure you are comfortable fielding the possible questions that might come from friends or family viewing it.
If setting up an altar in plain sight is not realistic for you because of safety concerns (judgmental roommates, friends, or parents, for example), you may want to create your altar in a temporary way just for the rituals. If so, get a container (a box or bin) that you can store and carry your altar items in.
Ideally, however, your altar will stay up for the duration of working this book,
and you will add items to it as you go. Start out simple, with room to grow.
Spell Working: Sensing Meaning
This exercise can be used to improve your intuitive capabilities on any topic.
You may find it useful for divining your relationship with anything. I present it here as a way to find a color that works as a base for what you are invoking through building your altar.
There are many color correspondences, and your relationship with color-or any other element, word, idea, or representation-supersedes all others. If you do not have a color that just automatically comes to mind for you as a good one for your altar cloth, I encourage you to take some time to explore what different colors represent to you.
To sense color meanings, close your eyes and visualize a color. See what thoughts and feelings come up for you regarding that color. When you open your eyes, write as many of the thoughts that you had about the color as you can remember. This is the beginning of your personal color correspondence chart.
Your relationship with certain colors may change over time. Perform this exercise anytime you feel that a shift may have occurred in your relationship with colors, or with any other element of magickal representation.
If you perform this exercise but still feel stuck, you can find my personal color correspondences in appendix I. Feel free to use them as a starting point.
How to Build Your Altar
Use whatever color of altar cloth that makes you feel like the Witchy, powerful
Goddess you are. What colors represent the kind of self-devotion you are seeking? Perhaps you have a favorite color that makes it easy for you to drop right into your Witchy power.
Next, gather any things you can think of that make you feel Witchy, sensual, and self-loving. Here are some musts:
A mirror. A hand mirror works well. Even better is a wall mirror, hung where
you will see your face as you sit or stand before your altar.
Flowers. Dried flowers are acceptable, but fresh are best.
A chalice filled with fresh water.
If you have found or created representations of the tools you found in your
temple visualization, you may add those to the altar as well.
Depending upon the sort of self-love you are creating, building, growing, or invoking, you will want to use different items. Want smoldering sensuality? How about some musk oil, a red feather boa, and chocolate? Want to get more comfortable with your sexual anatomy? How about a vulva painting, puppet, or pillow? Want to conjure up some sweet, innocent self-love? Make yourself a
Valentine card, and put it up there next to your mirror.
When setting up your personal love altar, you could find a statue or photo of
Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and beauty, or of Eros, the Greek God of love and sex (his name is the origin of the word erotic), and place her or him in the center of the montage. Even better, use a photo of your divinely sensual self, and put Aphrodite to one side of the picture of you and Eros to the other.
Now that you have your altar, here's what you can do with it. Every evening (the time of Venus) or at whatever time makes sense to you, spend some time with your altar. Refresh the water in the chalice. Breathe. Relax into your body. Take a sip of fresh water. Take in the images and talismans before you. Imagine the self-love that you are growing as a color. Visualize that color as a small orb in your heart chakra. (Your heart chakra is right around your sternum, in the middle of your chest. For more information on chakras, see appendix I.) Breathe.
With each breath, visualize this orb of light expanding. Let it expand until it fills your physical body, and then allow it to move beyond your physical limits.
As you continue breathing, let this energy fill the room, and then let it spill out all over the world. Let it expand throughout the universe, blessing all beings with your own unique flavor of love.
If that's not your style, use your altar as a reminder that self-love is good love, and use your time in front of your altar to masturbate. Remember, it's sex with someone you love!
Exercise Your Rights
We all know we're “supposed” to exercise, but it's great when it becomes an inspiration to take care of ourselves this way. Exercise is a very important aspect of self-nurturance. There are so many reasons that exercise is important,
yet many of us have not yet successfully integrated regular exercise into our self-care routines. We get bored or busy, or let other things take precedence.
But, a healthy body is key to a healthy being. Do it!
If you want reminders about why exercise is essential, here are some good ones:
Exercise gives you a healthy glow.
Exercise reduces stress.
A healthy amount of exercise helps you maintain your body weight.
Exercise decreases your risk of osteoporosis.1
Recent studies show that exercise is a more effective treatment for depression
than talk therapy.2
Exercise helps diminish PMS symptoms.3
If you tend to get bored with a schedule or set routine, do like I do:
• Make a list of exercise options. Mine includes everything physical that I
enjoy; for example, going out dancing, taking a walk or run, sex, Pilates, yoga,
putting on a salsa
When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you look good. It's a positive-feedback loop!
Notice things that you love about yourself.
Accept compliments from others.
Offer compliments to others.
Create and recite self-adoration mantras.
Some Simple Rules for Creating a Self-Adoration Mantra:
Always declare your desired state in the positive. Instead of saying, “I want
to lose weight,” (losing weight is a non-action,) say, “I am becoming even
Declare your desired state in the present tense, with a sense of your spells
already having done their magick.
Make sure that when you say your mantra, you believe it with your whole body.
A Magickal Thought: • Find places where you like to walk or run. Becoming healthy is a radical, (r)evolutionary, magickal act.
Creating a Daily Practice: Self-Honoring Rituals The opportunity to create self-honoring in your life is available at any time. All it takes to create a ritual of honoring is intention. There are probably many self-nurturing activities you do on a daily basis. These might include putting on sunscreen,
eating, dressing for your day, exercising, walking, or writing. Your morning shower is a great place to start with honoring your body. As you wash, imagine the water cleansing you through and through. Let the water wash away not only the external funk, but the internal, too. Many of us engage in little rituals throughout the day, though we may not be conscious of it. It's easy to become conscious of it, and to use that consciousness as a portal to the creation of a system of self-honoring that may change your life, and the lives of future generations of women. Every act of self-worship, self-care, and self-nurturance is a revolutionary act. Change begins with the individual. To change the world,
take care of yourself! Some of the daily rituals-or opportunities for ritual-are simple and many of them are things we already do. The next time you are standing in front of your mirror and applying lotion make a commitment to notice the things about your body that make you happy.
• Daily Practice: Little Rituals Everywhere
Choose one activity that makes you feel great, and do it every day this week. As you perform your chosen activity, dedicate the time you have set aside to consciously honoring yourself. Whether you are going for a run, walking to work,
taking a shower, or putting on your make-up, use this daily practice to really honor your self, your body, your health, your vitality, your sensuality, and your power. Even if this feels like a stretch to you, stick with it. I promise it will become easier, and soon you'll be absolutely bursting with self-adoration!
Self-esteem is the main topic of the next chapter, but being in our bodies, and
LOVING being there, is a great starting point. Here is one more exercise in honor of the worship you so deserve.
Magickal Act: Picture This
Have you ever had naked photos of yourself taken? If you haven't, you have no idea what you are missing. So, it's time to find out. Okay, you don't have to be naked. You can be partially naked, or you can use a drape to cover the parts of your body that you aren't yet comfortable showing off.
These photos will be a testament to your beauty. At least one of them will be the perfect centerpiece for your self-love altar. You will be able to keep these images for your whole life, and if they're tastefully done, you may even want to pass them on to your kids or grandkids (if you plan on having any).
I recommend that you go to a professional photographer, if you can find one you like and if you can afford it. Those folks know how to work magic with the lighting, poses, props, and sets. And, the right photographer will really put you at ease.
You may feel more comfortable with a female photographer, or you may prefer a male. Either way, find out if the photographer does boudoir sets (that's code for slightly naughty pix), and if so, check out their portfolio. Meet them before the session, and make sure you like them, trust them, and feel comfortable with the idea of disrobing in front of them.
If you can't (or don't want to) find a professional photographer, have a girlfriend or boyfriend who's handy with a camera take the photos for you. (Make sure you end up with the negatives if you use a camera that takes film.) Maybe you can return the favor for your friend later. If you have access to a digital camera, that's the way to go. Then you won't have to worry about the film developers seeing you in the flesh and you can just erase any photos you don't like.
With a photographer who is not a professional, you may need more than one session to get some pictures that make you just absolutely fall in love with your beautiful body. Play with the lighting, setting, make-up, and costuming.
Pictures taken outside can be amazing, especially if shot on an overcast day.
Sooner or later you will see a picture that makes your heart sing. That's the one to enlarge, frame, and place at the center of your altar.
Journaling Prompts: Naked Truth
My body is . . .
I am happy that my body . . .
My body feels best when .
Onward and Inward!
Good work, Sexy Witch! You have completed chapter 1. Now, find your first ritual in part 2 of this book (Rituals I for solo Witches, or Rituals II for circles of
Witches), and initiate yourself!
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