How to Create an At-Home Retreat

Recently, I have been researching wellness retreats and have found that they are very expensive.  Although I can certainly see the benefits of getting away for a couple of days and re-orienting oneself in a nurturing environment, I also don’t think that self-awareness and relaxation should have to bust the piggy bank.  So, I’ve decided to give myself an at-home retreat experience that is simple, flexible, and economical.  I invite you to take a deep, cleansing breath along with me and kick off the New Year with renewed energy and focus by taking a little time out to get back into alignment.  Here we go…

Schedule Your Retreat

First things first.  You should schedule your retreat at a time that works best for you.  If you only have one day for your retreat, that is just fine.  Feel free to modify the suggested activities below to suit your schedule and needs.  Ideally, though, try to arrange a 3-day staycation more or less in solitude.

You will want some lead time to assemble the materials you will need, so I suggest picking a date that is at least a few weeks down the road.  You may also need to make arrangements for children or work obligations; you will want as few distractions as possible.

If you have children, the best way to manage a little ‘me time’ may be to take a few days off from work while they are in school.  Alternatively, you could send them off to a sleepover at a friend’s house for a weekend or ask your partner or a friend to take them on an outing for an afternoon.

Make clear to your co-workers that you will not be checking email or messages during your retreat.  Put a plan in place for dealing with work emergencies that doesn’t involve you, and keep your cell phone on do not disturb.

Gather Your Materials

Some things you might need for this retreat include:

  • A journal & something to write with
  • Headphones
  • Detoxifying bath salts – purchase some or make your own
  • Facial mask, such as Redmond’s Facial Mud
  • Good walking/hiking shoes or a yoga mat

Meals

Try to nourish and detoxify your body during this time.  I recommend a Paleo or Whole30 type diet over the course of the retreat.  Organize your meals in advance, so you can focus on you once your retreat is underway, not running out to the grocery store.

Steer clear of liquid detox diets.  Although I am not a doctor or nutritionist, I do want to emphasize that putting stress on yourself and your body to exercise insane will-power is simply not beneficial.  This is about supporting the mind and body, and to do that, you need to ensure that your body is getting all of the nutrients that it needs to perform optimally.

Sipping herbal tea throughout the retreat will keep you refreshed and relaxed.  I recommend the Traditional Medicinals brand, and their detox teas are perfect for this time.  Be sure to drink adequate water, infused with fresh fruit, if you desire.

Exercise

Start each morning with a walk or hike outside.  If the weather is foul, or if you prefer, you can practice yoga inside instead.  Yoga with Adrienne is a great YouTube channel with a wide variety of routines for every skill level.

Don’t just go through the motions here.  Be aware of what you are doing, how the body feels, what the air smells like, etc.  Be present.

Also, don’t overdo.  This is not about pushing the body as hard as you can.  It is about slowing down and become more mindful.  I suggest a 20 to 40 minute gentle exercise period to get the blood flowing.  No more than that.

Meditation

Work meditation into each day.  You may want to download the Calm app or select a guided meditation on YouTube.  You can also purchase meditation music on iTunes.  Listen with headphones to help block out surrounding noises.

Journaling

Taking a retreat is all about re-connecting.  One of the best ways to do this is to diary your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  You can keep your journal handy on your morning walk, pause in a park, and write whatever comes to you, or you can follow a more structured format provided by a workbook.  Give yourself enough time to be in this active meditation.  Don’t rush it just to get it done.  Get it done with purpose.

Entertainment

Be very much aware of what information you are taking in during this time, and try to keep it positive.  One of my favorite films is Eat, Pray, Love.  It is a very inspirational story that you might want to check out at some point during your retreat.  Reading is also an appropriate activity, and you can choose either self-help or spiritual literature, or indulge in something fun.

Shut off social media and cell phone notifications.  You also don’t need to listen to the news right now.  Most of it is negative, gossip, or mindless chatter that will not support you during a time of inward reflection.

Relax

End each evening with a detoxifying bath, candles, and some soothing music.  Give yourself a facial.  If you can, schedule a pedicure or massage at a spa.  And relish in the experience.  So often, we treat these appointments as exactly that – another appointment on our calendar we have to check off.  Forget that anything comes after this, and just enjoy it.

Come On Back

When the retreat is over, you might want to give yourself just one more day (or at least the last evening) with your family or friends to ease yourself back into the world before getting back to the daily grind.  And when you do, you will find yourself re-charged with renewed perspective.

Taking time for ourselves is critical to our wellbeing, yet we rarely prioritize it.  Yes, things need to get done…  And many things can wait for a day or two or three while you take care of you.  I hope you will give yourself this gift -without guilt – whenever you need.

Blessed be,
M.

 

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Goodbye, Hello

Every December, we all start looking back on what we’ve accomplished, what we regret, what we’re happy to see go, and what we hope to welcome into our lives in the upcoming 12 months.  Several years ago, I started using Leonie Dawson’s annual workbook to facilitate this mindfulness ritual.  Since then, I’ve crafted my own version, keeping what I like, ditching what doesn’t resonate with me, and adding sections that do.  It was from this exercise that I developed the Yearly Closing Ritual.  Here, I will share with you what fills up the remainder of the pages in my workbook…

First, I check the ephemeris for the upcoming year and note any major astrological transits.  If you are not familiar with an ephemeris or what particular transits might mean, you can also listen to your horoscope for the year on Astro Lada’s YouTube channel.  Be sure to check both your Sun and Ascendant signs.  You may also wish to check your Moon sign, particularly if you are female.

I usually start by determining where Saturn is going to be in my chart, because Saturn shows us where we need to hustle.  Saturn places pressures on us wherever it is transiting in order to help us mature in that area.  If you cooperate with this energy, you will have a much easier go of it than if you try to resist.  For example, if Saturn is in your 2nd House of Finances, you are much better off working with the energy of Saturn to organize your financial affairs than collapsing under a financial crisis.

Next, I take a look at where Jupiter is at.  Jupiter is a planet of benevolence and expansion, so you can prepare for anything touched by its power to bring you plentiful blessings.

I will then notate when Venus will be passing through, because Venus is another benevolent.  When Venus is in your sign, it is a good time to receive beauty treatments or go out on a date.

Finally, I jot down dates on eclipse season and major retrogrades.

With this astrological information in hand, I can then formulate a plan for tackling the year to come.

I have a page in my workbook to create one or two goals in each area of my life, such as professional, financial, and spiritual.  I like to focus my goals where I’m going to get the most bang for my buck on the basis of the astrological data I have collected.  Because Saturn is transiting my 7th House of Relationships this year, for example, I added a box on my page to place relationship goals.  Of course, you can include anything you want, but I do find that working with whatever lessons the Universe has in store for me is the best approach.

Try to make your goals specific rather than general.  For instance, setting a goal to run a 5k this year is better than a generic statement of ‘improving my health’.  It’s also best to limit your goals to 3 or less in each sector you want to work in.  Otherwise, you will quickly get overwhelmed and may even feel like a failure if you can’t get it all done in one year’s time.  Be realistic with yourself.

On the next page, I write out specific steps to achieving each of the goals I have identified.  If you want to get a new job this year, you might put down the following steps: (1) update résumé; (2) hire headhunter; (3) purchase new suit for interviews, etc.  Just think through how you are going to get from Point A to Point B and create a checklist.

My workbook also has a general ‘bucket list’ of things I’d like to do, like star gazing, getting a library card, and cooking a meal together with my partner.  These are different than goals, because they don’t require the long-term planning and investment that goals do.  Again, I will refer to my trusty astrological guide and make sure I pick a few things to do that will flow with the thematic energies of the year, but I will also include just random things that I may have wanted to do for a while but have been putting off or that I just think would be fun.  Ziplining, anyone??

I have a few brief lists of books to read, places to visit, crystals to work with, herbs to study, and essential oils to try.  Be creative!  But also don’t get too crazy.  For me, I only select 4 books for the year, usually in correlation with my goals and maybe one for fun.  You may want to do one herb per month or every other.  Perhaps, if you’re a foodie, you want a list of restaurants or wines to try…  But don’t throw yourself way off budget by putting down 50.  You get what I’m saying…

I have a page for affirmations, and I write a sort of mission statement for the whole year that I place on the cover.

My last page will be an oracle or tarot card reading.  I pull a card for each month of the year, reflect, and take notes.

And that’s about it!

Creating a workbook can help you get ready for the New Year in a way that will be enriching and fun.  Keep your completed workbook with your book of shadows or spell books and reference it from time to time to see if you are keeping up on all those things you set out to experience at the start of the year.  Enjoy that feeling of accomplishment as you check all of those items off!

May you be touched by many magickal blessings in 2018!
Mara.

 

 

And then the world was on fire…

Hello, friends.

Much has happened since last I wrote.  I passed the California bar exam, was sworn into practice, renovated and sold my house in Buffalo, and made a 2,500 mile trek across the country to my new home in Los Angeles – where the world is now alight with the fury of several raging wildfires.  In Buffalo, it snows… And, generally speaking, you just push it out of the way.  Fire destroys… generally without mercy or discretion.

At present, I would ask you to make offerings to your pantheon, call for rain and still winds, and work spells of protection around our firefighters and those whose homes have been and continue to be affected.

On a practical front, if you are in Southern California, please keep apprised of evacuation orders and preparedness alerts by following Cal Fire on social media or signing up for text alerts from your local municipality.  If you live outside of the area, please refer to this helpful article on how you may provide assistance to those in need.  Every little bit helps, and is greatly appreciated.

Stay safe out there!!

Magickal blessings,
Mara.

How to Properly Frame Affirmations

If you’re familiar with the Law of Attraction, then you are probably also familiar with affirmations – those ‘feel good’ statements we tell ourselves over and over again until we (theoretically) believe they are true.  The problem is, if those statements aren’t actually true, your subconscious mind will reject them, making it more difficult for you to manifest your intentions.

For example, if you look at yourself every day in the mirror and say, “I’m a millionaire” when you are living paycheck to paycheck on a minimum wage job, your subconscious knows that’s blarney.  And because our subconscious mind makes up the majority of our thought process, it will override whatever your conscious mind may rationalize as possible.

Because of this dynamic, I have found that the most powerful way to structure affirmations is by using things you already believe to be true as your base and then expanding those statements to encompass the target you are drawing into your experience.

Let’s use love as an example.  Take a piece of paper or your manifesting journal, and write at the top of a page: “I’m a great catch because…”  Write at least 30 things about yourself that you earnestly believe make you an attractive partner.  Your list may look something like this:

I’m a great catch because….
*I am intelligent
*I’m financially secure
*I have a great sense of humor
*I live a fun and active lifestyle
And so on.

Now, transform those statements into at least 10 affirmations that are geared toward attracting your desire.  Like this:

*My intelligence is attractive to potential partners.
*My home is ready for a new partner to move in.
*[Women/Men] enjoy being around the fun environment I create.
Etc.

These are statements that your subconscious is more open to receiving, because they have a basis in your present reality.  Such properly framed affirmations will gradually move you closer to your goal, because they break through any subconscious blocks you may have that withhold from you the object of your desire.  Think of abundance as a river.  If you have erected dams, the river of abundance cannot freely flow to you.  Once you deconstruct the dams, blessings flow to you effortlessly.  Affirmations facilitate this process by re-directing your focus to the positive in your experience and away from the sabotaging, negative self-talk that builds dams.

Try the above experiment and read your affirmations aloud to yourself every morning in the mirror.  Always conclude with a gratitude statement, such as, “Thank you for the blessings in my life now and for those that are presently on their way to me.”  Finally, declare, “As I will it, so may it be,” and go forth to conquer the day! 🙂

 

Venus Retrograde 2017

Hello, All!  I am back from my adventures in California, and I am looking forward to devoting more time to this blog and my youtube channel.  And I’d like to start by talking about love!  ❤

Currently, Venus is Retrograde and will be moving through the signs of Aires and Pisces, until she goes direct on April 15th.  Venus Retrograde periods are about reflecting on our relationships with our lovers as well as our relationships with money, art, and beauty.  This is when we evaluate what truly makes our hearts sing.

To take the most advantage of this Retrograde season, you may perform any rituals needed to clear out past lovers from your energetic space.  The best time to do this will be while the Moon is wanning during the latter half of March.  In particular, the Moon will be in Libra (the sign of relationships) on Monday, March 13th through Wednesday, March 15th and then moves into Scorpio (the sign of death) on Thursday, March 16th and Friday, March 17th.  You may also find Saturday, March 18th a good day for cutting ties, as Saturday is generally a good day for banishing, and the numerological correspondence of 9 (1+8) is that of endings.

Activities such as burning old photos and deleting your ex’s phone number are certainly supported at this time.  More importantly, however, is to identify any unresolved feelings or pain and give to yourself whatever you need to heal.  You may try journaling or working with crystals that stimulate the heart charka, such as rose quartz and green aventurine.  Perhaps try a meditation.  Take a walk in nature and observe how green the world looks in Spring; allow the experience to energize your heart.

You may also find that this is a good time to take stock of what makes you feel prosperous, as Venus also takes a role in our financial well-being.  The focus is to reflect inward, however, and hold off taking action until the retrograding planet moves forward.  So, you may, for example, spend some time looking over your budget and determining where you can trim some fat and whether or not you are investing your money where it is working to bring you joy.  Does your job make you feel awesome or drained?  Et cetera.

Venus governs matters of art and beauty, so now is a wonderful time to schedule an afternoon at the local art museum.  Compose a poem or write a piece of music.  Read some classic literature.  Maybe read up on the myths of Aphrodite.

Let go of any body-image issues with self-love rituals, buying yourself flowers, or learning more about how to prepare healthful meals that sustain the body.  Be kind to yourself.

Remember, keep these activities quiet and reflective.  Venus will guide you to exactly the right place within your heart that needs tending to.  In fact, the Universe may very well throw it in your face, as it did with me just yesterday when an ex I thought I was completely over suddenly popped back up.  Take it as it comes, sitting with mindful awareness of each experience, and when Venus moves direct, you will understand what these lessons were placed into your life to teach you.

I hope this Venus Retrograde proves to be healing and beneficial to you all!

Magickal blessings,
Mara.

 

 

New Moon & Vision Board Ritual

So excited for this evening’s New Moon!                      New Moons are always a great time for manifesting and new beginnings, but this New Moon is especially important to me.  Tonight, the Sun and Moon are both in my sign (Aquarius), which means that it is time to kick off the start of my birth year.  It is also the first New Moon of 2017, which makes it a wonderful time for everyone to set their intentions for the year.  To help inspire you, I have made this video on my youtube channel to show you how I will be incorporating a vision board into this evening’s ritual.

My New Moon Altar, with vision board placed by the Sun Candle, Justice Tarot Card, and bar exam tools being charged.
My New Moon Altar, with vision board placed by the Sun Candle, Justice Tarot Card, and bar exam tools being charged.

Yes, I know – vision boards are usually a ‘law of attraction’ thing.  But, for me, LOA and witchcraft are pretty synonymous.  My definition of witchcraft is the willful manipulation of energy to achieve a desire a result – which could also be said for many popular LOA techniques.  If you like, you can think of a vision board as its own sort of spell, as a creation that is infused with your energy and intent to bring about whatever it is that you are trying to manifest.  And a New Moon is a perfect time to make one.  So, get out your scissors, magazines, and glue sticks, and let’s get busy!

Love & Light,
Mara.