bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Category: personal

4 Science Based Strategies for When You’re Feeling Down.

(or something like that)

I was reading an article the other day because I was feeling like sh*t and this article caught my eye as I was scrolling through my media feed.

This article was broken into four parts, each headlined by an action, and each part discussed scientific reasons why that action would help bring one out of a temporary ‘funk.’

(I say ‘temporary funk’ as this post is not  meant to address the situation of those who suffer from clinical depression or other mental illnesses…just as I believe that the article was not meant as a replacement for seeking medical help, psychological therapy, or taking prescribed medications either.)

These are the 4 strategies as I listed them in my notebook, and the descriptions are my take on the information as it was presented in the article:

1.) Ask yourself: What am I grateful for?

  • Even if you cannot ‘find’ anything, remembering to do so distracts/busies the mind enough to help you feel better.
  • According to the article, worrying – as well as feeling guilt or shame – ‘rewards’ the brain centers, because the brain treats the process of worrying  or feeling shame or guilt about a problem as a valid attempt to find a solution.  The brain treats the worry as an activity – the brain thinks it’s doing something to solve the problem and to the brain, that’s all that matters is that it is doing something.
  • So, the article stresses the importance of keeping one’s mind busy with what is good, as it is all the same to your brain, whether you are thinking of a solution or not.

2.) Label negative feelings.

  • Give that awful feeling or idea a name; don’t suppress your feelings and emotions about it.  It’s part of your brain’s process.
  • When you suppress emotions, your brain still ‘knows’ it and your body still reacts to the emotion, whether you’ve allowed yourself to feel the emotion or not.

3.) Make a decision

  • Making a decision reduces worry and anxiety, as your brain treats the activity of making a decision as ‘finding a solution’ – even if the decision/’solution’ is to allow yourself to feel a feeling for 20 minutes – and move on.  Even ‘I will decide what to do on Monday’ will work – but you must decide and move on.
  • Your brain treats the act of making a decision as a ‘successful’ attempt at a solution – and it calms your limbic system as a result.
  • Even if it is not a ‘100% effective solution’ or even a procrastination (as in ‘I will think about what to do on Monday morning’ or even ‘I don’t know what to do but I will decide later’) your brain registers that as you have decided to do something.
  • Why? Because actively choosing causes changes in attention circuits of the brain and studies have shown this in action: participants were asked to describe how they felt about an action, and then asked to choose how they are going to react to the action.  The simple act of choosing (ie. verbalizing aloud) their reaction caused an increase of dopamine activity in the brain, and the more specific the decision, the more dopamine was released (such as the general “I am hurt, so I will cry” versus the more specific “I am hurt, so I will cry for 20 minutes.”)

4.) Touch people

  • We need to feel love and acceptance from people.  If we do not and we are rejected, it is painful. The brain registers this lack and this rejection as if we have experienced physical pain. According to science, rejection doesn’t feel like a broken heart; your brain treats the rejection like a broken leg.
  • Touching someone that you love, even a pet – for 20 seconds or more – actually reduces pain: “A hug – especially a long one – releases the neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala (the base of the pain center) in the brain.

~~~

I would link to the article – if I could find it – so I will keep looking for it, and update with it if I can…

Found it: http://theweek.com/articles/601157/neuroscience-reveals-4-rituals-that-make-happy

 

 

 

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Songs from the musical vacuum:….take me back to the start.

A friend of mine once told me that I must live ‘in a musical vacuum’ because there’s a lot of popular songs that I’ve never listened to, much less heard of.

Often, I don’t want to agree with her for two good reasons.

First, I’ll pretty much listen to any and all genres of music.

And second, I’m pretty much listening to music all of the time.

Yes, much like Starlord, I have a soundtrack to my days, if not, my entire life…so I cannot fathom how this could be.

I do not want to  believe that I live in a musical vacuum.  I tell myself that I’d know a popular song if I heard it before, wouldn’t I?

Yeah.

Yeah.

 

So last night, she sent me a link to this:

 

This is Lennon Roach.

He is an munitions system specialist for the US Air Force stationed in Lakenheath England.

So I listened to the song, and then I went to bed.

~~~

But I woke up this morning with bits of that lovely melody and heartfelt lyrics still resonating in my head.

So I’ve been thinking of this song all morning.

I must’ve clicked on the link a dozen times, listening to it since last night.

Because of the way that it was shared, I did not see the tag that identifies this song, but I found myself absolutely falling in love with the words and the melody.

Once I’d practically memorized the lyrics of the song…I realized I had to know more.

So I Googled the song lyrics, expecting that this would be an original piece.

It’s not.

Much to my surprise, I found out this morning that it’s a cover of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist.’

Heh.

Oops.

Maybe I do live in a musical vacuum.

I stand corrected.

 

Pandoramancy: Lost.

There is nothing wrong, and yet I have been rather socially-avoidant today, just fumbling through the hours.

It happens.

But then a notification came through my email: an old acquaintance of mine wrote a post on zir blog little while ago, and damned if it didn’t give me a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia:

You see, I too, have had Him come to me as Peter Pan, and yet oddly enough, I was an adult – with adult responsibilities such as a job, bills to pay, and a child of my own – so I didn’t understand the meaning of His usage of that particular face during His visitation at that time.

And yet…

I believe that it was a sign, a marker of sorts – meant to remind me of the part of me I hid, that part that I never really allowed to be- the part of me I’d chosen to tuck away from my everyday awareness.

Perhaps it is a cliche – the playful attitude, the sense of wonder – but I will not deny its importance.

I was a serious child with a vivid imagination and if anything, I’d always thought someday, I would come back to that part, I would allow myself one day…

To remember the boy who waited at the edge of those bad dreams…

The young man who lived in the woods

whose face I drew incessantly

whom I was half in love with

before I even could have known what love was.

As He was – and yet He was not – Peter Pan, but it was not until I realized much later that the face of Peter Pan was a convenient and rather apt metaphor for what I had pushed away from myself.

Come find Me, He said.

You know where.

Month for Loki, Twenty-Ninth: Faith.

Yesterday, this song featured in a movie I was watching.

It was the end-theme of a bittersweet movie.

Hearing this song made me sad…but it also made me smile.

And today, even though I was not sad anymore, I was thinking all morning of how yesterday had actually been such a wonderful day overall, and how thankful I was for having had the opportunity to spend time with the people I love the most.

As well, I was thinking of L too – and realizing that He had delivered on what I’d wanted, on what I’d asked.

And then this song turned up on my recommended Spotify list this morning.

Pandoramancy.

Month for Loki, Twenty-Seventh: Tipping His hand.

I’d been meaning to write about this earlier in the week, but somehow I’d never gotten around to it.

First, some background:

During my daily walks, I’ve come across some pretty strange items over the years.

I’m sure that there’s a word for it – divination through found objects – but nothing seems to capture exactly what happens.  Apantomancy comes close (as apantomancy is a form of divination through chance encounters, usually involving, though not limited to, encounters with animals) or even oryctomancy (which is divination using excavated objects), but nonetheless, I’ve found some unusual items during my daily walks.

Something I find a lot of is… playing cards.

Now I cannot express to you how often I have come across a single playing card in a random place:

  • In the middle of the woods, half-buried by leaves.
  • Floating in a drainage ditch that runs along the side of the busy road.
  • Skittering along in a light breeze across the gravel path of a New England cemetery, while my husband and I searched for the grave marker of my husband’s best childhood friend who died in 1987.
  • Folded in half and wedged between two crumbling bricks in a brick wall in the alley way behind a busy suburban restaurant – and the only reason I noticed it is because I had stepped out to get some quiet and privacy in order to make an important phone call – as I happened to be staring at that particular wall while I was waiting for the other person to pick up.
  • In the trunk of a newly delivered vehicle in a car-sales lot in Orlando – but the car only had 6 miles on it and the salesman insisted that no one had ever driven it before, as it had been delivered on a flat truck that morning from the manufacturer’s warehouse.

As well, I have had several vivid dreams over the last four years wherein Loki has shown me playing cards or made a direct reference to playing cards.

I didn’t know what to think, but it had gotten to be such a thing that I started to wonder if I should be considering these occurrences as some sort of message.

Could playing cards be used for divination?

The hell if I knew.

~~~

Such as eight months ago, I found this card:

Now while I was aware of cartomancy as a form of divination, I’d assumed that the ‘divination by cards’ definition referred exclusively to tarot cards.

Again, I wondered if there was some connection between tarot cards and playing cards, but I hadn’t thought to explore it further until that day.

I was surprised to find that playing cards and tarot decks are more closely related than I’d assumed, as according to this website, playing cards may have originally been invented as a means of divination long before people used them to play games of poker or bridge.

(The chicken or the egg…does it matter?  I didn’t know either way.)

So, I bit… what is the meaning behind the 9 of clubs?

Various websites define the clubs suit as a suit that governs finances, achievements and ideas. And 9 is the number of completion, fulfillment, unity and insight.  Most interpretations of this card focus on the concept of ‘small’ or ‘short’ as well as contentment and finality without fanfare.  9 of clubs signifies to keep your eye out for small successes, a new idea that can lead to a slight increase, or a step towards positive change.  Perhaps there will be a slight increase in pay, some progress towards a goal, the completion of a short-term plan, or the subtle end of a process.  Several describe the 9 of clubs as indicating a new friendship or taking up with a new lover.  And nearly every one of them mentions something odd:

Don’t be stubborn

And considering that, I have to laugh.

Stubborn is definitely something I can be.

And that definitely sounds like something He would say in response.

~~~

Moving onward, I found myself coming across a few more playing cards in random places while walking and cleaning house, and a few more meditation visuals and dream-sequences of Loki that featured what appeared to be references to poker, gambling and…lottery tickets.

Two weeks ago, a particular meditation visual was so strong that I suggested my husband buy a lottery ticket.

And he did.  Sort of.

He bought scratch tickets…and the theme was something along the lines of ‘Set For Life’ — referencing the game of poker, with the usual logo of lucky playing cards.

(P.S – we did not win.)

~~~

So, this past Saturday, I went to a local mystical shop.

I was looking for a particular tarot deck that I’ve been wanting for a while, but they did not have it in stock.

While I was browsing their selection of tarot decks, I noticed these ‘Lenormand’ card decks and card kits were mixed in with displays.

Although I’d heard of Lenormand, I didn’t know exactly how a Lenormand deck differed from any other tarot deck.

But according to the blurb-descriptions on several of their featured decks…

Lenormand follows the heritage of fortune telling cards based on playing card decks.

So I bought a deck designed by Ryan Edwards, called Maybe Lenormand.

The two decks – one base deck of 36 cards and 16 additional – feature these lovely Victorian-inspired line illustrations that I absolutely adore.

You know, having some delightful artwork to focus on certainly helps as I learn this new divination skill.

And so, I am exploring a new divination skill –  and perhaps that was what He was nudging me toward all along.

And here I thought He was encouraging me to play poker or gamble more.

Heh.

 

 

 

 

Month for Loki, Twenty-Third: Kenning.

Inspired by Lokean Welcoming Committee’s outline of topics for Month for Loki, today’s post:

Find out some of Loki’s kennings, or other names, and what they mean. Which one(s) resonate with you the most?

Since many of Loki’s kennings resonate with me, it was difficult to choose one that resonated with me the most…but I think that there is one in particular that actually took me by surprise, and so, I am going to write about Gammleid today:

In July 2014, I took a course from Cherry Hill Seminary. This course dealt exclusively with studying the role of shapeshifting in the lore of several cultures. Though the course mainly focused on shapeshifting lore in South and Central America, the final project was to present how shapeshifting might feature in our personal spiritual practices.

Thus, I performed a personal meditation ritual in mid-July 2014 that was meant to introduce me to my ‘spirit animal guide.’

And much to my surprise, Loki showed up and suggested the vulture as the ‘spirit animal guide’ in that first meditation, and again, vultures featured in a few more interactions thereafter.

I was baffled, but like a good student, I resolved to research the connections between Loki and vultures.

Soon enough, I came upon a list of Loki’s kennings, and even more surprisingly, the kenning, ‘vulture’s path’ came up.

But oddly enough, I wasn’t able to find much scholarship that even speculated as to what this kenning might represent, until I found this:

Gammleið

This Old Norse word  is commonly translated as “vulture’s path“, i.e. Lopt “the air”

-from ÞÓRSDRÁPA  Stanza 2, verses 1-4, The Codex Regius from this site 

~~~

Meanwhile, I’d begun amassing quite a collection of vulture feathers:

– from both turkey vultures and black vultures as I began to notice quite a lot of them in my neck of the woods from late March to June of that year (2015)

And then, shortly thereafter, I read this in Dagulf Loptson’s ePub, Playing with Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson :

               “The name “vulture’s path” is possibly a kenning for air, which connects with another of Loki’s kennings, Loptr. However, we are left with no explanation as to why the vulture, as opposed to any other kind of aerial creature, is used to illustrate flight through the air, especially since Loki typically takes the form of a fly or a falcon. I personally feel that vulture might be associated with Loki for the following reasons.
Both vultures and ravens are well known scavengers, making them both symbols for death. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that our ancestors often saw vultures and ravens together while the birds were eating bodily remains. As Odinn is always with ravens, perhaps his blood-brother and traveling companion Loki was associated with vultures.
The vulture could also be linked to Loki…in his aspect as a god of death and cremation, as a traveler to the underworld, or as a dissolver of illusions.” *

**Cue the sound of my mind being blown**

~~~

But what did working with Vulture teach me?

On the surface, a lot of folks (including myself, at one time) see vultures as birds of the dead, and they are.  But, much like crows – another creature I associate with Loki – Vulture’s work is one of transformation, as vultures, like crows, are carrion eaters.  Ancient cultures, such as the Greeks, Assyrians and Egyptians saw the vulture as a purifying, transforming force — a creature who purifies the landscape and environment through its consumption of the dead and decaying remains.  Symbolically, carrion eaters make use what others have abandoned or cannot use, and through that process, the carrion eater ensures the continued health and life of other living things. Vulture symbolizes that process – of turning poison into medicine, death into life – and therefore, the vulture represents transformation and regeneration.  Connected to that transformative aspect, vultures can teach us that our difficulties and struggles are temporary, and that what seems like an end (death) or a loss (sacrifice) is simply a phase in the process of growth and change.

 

Hail Loki, Gammleid ❤

And of course, Hail Vulture, Resourceful One, Patient Teacher, and Master of the Skies ❤

 

~~~

*Loptson, Dagulf, Playing with Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson, Asphodel Press, Hubbardston, MA, published July 7, 2015; pp 57-9.

Month for Loki, Twenty-second: Clearly

I don’t know if I’d ever gotten around to mentioning this, but I am working on another project which has become rather intense lately.

After several incredibly productive weeks, it felt as if certain aspects of the project were just not flowing anymore, and I couldn’t figure out why.

So I pulled a few runes to see if I could tease out what was the source of the blockage:

And this is what came up.

Situation: Laguz –  a rune that represents the essence of flow, the essence of depth, complexity.

Overall Aspect: Wunjo – a rune that represents joy.  A rune of success and happiness. Situation has the potential to go well.  Paired with Laguz, this felt like an excellent sign.

So what happened?

Result: Berkano, reversed- Like a sneaky ton of bricks, I immediately grasped the message here: Your attitude is affecting the potential here; your overall attitude is affecting the growth and the flow.  I see Berkano as a rune of fertility here; and its reversal marks it as the blockage: a fertility that may be misdirected…a profound indicator about how my own attitude – perhaps I am ‘fertilizing’ or feeding my worries and stresses about the project rather than pushing past them or through them – and *that* is the problem.

Huh.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a clear message through my runes before….

But that’s it in a nutshell, as it relates to the project, it would seem that the runes are telling me to get the eff out of my own way.

Again, point taken, Sir. 😯

 

 

Month for Loki, Fourteenth: Knot.

In the summer of 2012, I had one of the first of a series of strange vivid dreams  that involved Loki:

In this particular dream, I found myself searching through  a building of many rooms, and while I didn’t know what or who I was looking for, I knew I was looking for something…or someone.

Most of the rooms were spacious but empty – white walls, sparsely furnished, lit by buzzing fluorescent ceiling panels.  Like an abandoned office building, which I sensed may or may not be underground.

And then I was surprised to come upon what appeared to be a middle-aged man with dark auburn hair in one of the rooms.  As I’d mentioned, though most of the rooms were nothing more that white empty walls, the room this man was in was full of  brightly colored yarn.   Skeins of various colors and in various states of unravel lay scattered all over the floor.  While a few seemed no more than tangled handfuls of yarn, others were neatly wound and stacked in piles of three or four bundles, sorted by color.

Meanwhile the biggest jumble of knots lay closest to the man’s right foot.  I could also see that he was barefoot…. and he wasn’t exactly sitting in the chair.

This man was sprawled in an elaborately carved wooden chair large enough to easily be mistaken for some sort of throne.  I say sprawled because though I came upon him sitting upon this odd throne from behind and at somewhat of an angle, I immediately realized that this man was quite gangly; one of his legs casually dangled over one of the arm rests, and I couldn’t help but wonder how he’d  miraculously found a way to fold the length of the rest of his body comfortably within the confines of the seat.  

I don’t think he noticed me at first, as his head was bent in concentration upon his hands and the tangled mess of colored yarn in his lap.

However, when he did finally look up at me

He grinned….and casually asked me

if I knew

who he was.

Loki.

And Loki appeared to be knitting.  

But not with needles, mind you; He seemed to be knitting with His fingers.

(from my notebook, 17 July 2012)

~~~

But I learned something interesting today.

It occurs to me that Loki may not have been knitting.

He may have been nålbinding (“needle-binding”), an ancient technique which may pre-date knitting and crocheting by 1500 years, where a single length of thread or yarn is passed through loops by use of a single needle, and the resulting fabric is sturdily connected by interlocking these loops of yarn or thread with one another.  Nålebinding is also called ‘knotless netting.’

I came across this information today – though honestly I was researching something else that had nothing at all to do with Norse clothing -but a reference to socks caught my eye and I found my way to Hurstwic.org:

“However, Norse socks were not knitted (which apparently was unknown to the Norse). Instead, they were made using an ancient technique called nálbinding (needle-binding). Using a single large, thick needle, it was a method of knotting the yarn. Although time consuming, this approach resulted in a nearly indestructible garment. If the thread were to break or wear out, the garment would still be intact, since the thread was everywhere knotted to neighboring threads. Mittens and caps were also made using this technique. The sketch to the left shows the steps involved in making an article of clothing using the nálbinding technique. Note that the fabric grows in a spiral pattern. Once the spiral is large enough, it is knotted back on itself to create the shape of the finished article.”

 

(Photos: l-r: spiral nal-binding_sketch; Sock found in York; from Hurstwic.org.)

~~~

How does this personally relate to me in regards to Loki?

Loki has been referring me to knots and knotwork for many years now, and as it is with His method, I hadn’t any idea as to why He was always referring to such things, either literally or metaphorically.  But I’m starting to connect some things about knots and knotwork today.

But, barring that, it does give His references to ‘creating sockpuppets’ a whole new meaning, eh?

 

Month for Loki, Fourth: Firework.

Several years ago, this song was everywhere.

Whether it was just a coincidence, or an instance of pandoramancy, I’ve always found something about this song to be rather evocative of Him.

Happy Fourth of July!

Month for Loki, First: Prayer

Welcome to the first day of July!*

So here I am again, facing another July with an ever-evolving devotional practice that includes Loki… and Odin.

To that end, a week or so ago, I ordered a pair of gorgeous prayer cards from Wyrd Curiosities on Etsy so you can imagine my delight when they were delivered this morning — just in time for the first of the month:

prayercardinsert

((left): Loki prayer card, artwork by Grace Palmer; (center) Loki note card, artwork by W. McMillan; (right) Odin prayer card, artwork also by W. McMillan)

 

While Wyrd Curiosities sells several different prayer cards for Loki, I’d chosen this particular one mostly because it features Grace Palmer’s beautiful artwork as well as including one of my favorite prayers to Loki, written by F. Arismendi:

lokiprayercardprayer

Lovely.

As well, I was delighted to see that the two cards I’d purchased were enclosed within a gorgeous notecard created by Dionysian Artist, featuring another stunning portrayal of Loki by Wayne McMillan…so that was an unexpected but pleasant surprise ❤

~~~

*As you may know, many Lokeans around the country celebrate the month of July by writing;  that’s 30 days of devotional posts for Loki.