Some years ago I trained in Reiki, but as other things in my life took over I lost touch with it as a practice. Recently, in my journey of Self-healing, I’ve been drawn to Reiki once more. After looking for book recommendations to reacquaint myself I came across Reiki For Life: The complete guide to reiki practice for levels 1, 2 & 3 by Penelope Quest, and since the kindle version is reasonably priced I decided to give it a go.
The book has a friendly but informative approach to introducing Reiki, it’s history, and various aspects taught at Levels 1, 2 and 3. Although good for beginners there is also enough content of interest for an intermediate audience. I found it to be a good refresher for the parts I remembered from my training, as well as adding further details and excercises I was not taught. Various self-healing techniques are covered, as well as those for use on others.
The parts of this book I enjoyed the most were actually the sections and chapters on how Reiki is traditionally taught in Japan, where it originated. There are a number of key differences, including far more spiritual and self- energy cleansing practices. Many of these are relayed in the book, and show just how diverse the use of Reiki can be. The other big difference is that Japanese Reiki is taught over a much longer period than most Western Reiki courses, and with less dependence on the use of the Reiki symbols once a certain degree of proficiency is reached, giving way to a more Intuitive approach to healing.
I found the book a good reminder and extension of what I had already learned, as well as a fascinating insight into the way Reiki is taught in Japan. The two aspects balance out really well to give a comprehensive overview and insight into both the Western and Japanese Reiki systems. It gave me a lot more of a cohesive feel for Reiki as a whole, and what it can encompass. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a beginner to Reiki, if you’re curious about it, if you’re wondering if it’s the right thing for you, or if you’ve trained in it but want to know more about how it’s taught in Japan.
Today is World Pangolin Day so I’m going to introduce you to these wierd, cute, enigmatic creatures. In January I decided to support a Pangolin project led by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, so I’ll also be to telling you a bit about the work they do. (Not a sponsored post, I just wanted to include their work since it’s relevant).
Pangolins’ name comes from the Malay word penggulung, which means ‘roller’ and refers to how they roll up into balls to protect themselves from predators. Despite looking like giant scaled anteaters, especially with their long sticky tongues used for catching insects, they are not closely related to them. Their scales are made of keratin, just like our fingernails, and they act to protect them from predators.
There are eight species of Pangolin across both Africa and Asia. They are shy, solitary creatures who generally live alone or in pairs. In captivity they can live for up to twenty years, but their lifespan in the wild is not known. Babies stay with their mother for around two years after they’re born, often riding on their mother’s back while they wait for their scales to harden. Their diet consists of insects, and they can eat up to 70 million a year, which means they can help to keep insect populations down and keep local ecosystems in balance.
Sadly Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal on the planet. Across parts of Asia and Africa poachers quite literally make a killing selling Pangolins for their scales and meat. Pangolin meat is seen as a delicacy in certain places, and their scales have been used in traditional medicine practices in places like China.
Poachers have taken advantage of this demand and as a result the Asian species of Pangolin are now almost extinct and classified as critically endangered. This has meant a shift towards Africa, and the Pangolins there are now classed as extremely vulnerable. In the last decade over one million of these gentle creatures have been taken from the wild – that’s around 300 every day.
There have been efforts to raise awareness in recent years, though. Charities and wildlife organisations have focused their efforts not only on education but also empowering communities who share the land with Pangolins.
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is one such organisation, and has been working in wildlife conservation since 1984. Through their Pangolin project they try to engage with every level of Pangolin trafficking. On the ground they fund wildlife rangers, often from local communities, who keep an eye on Pangolins in the area and look out for any suspicious activity. The rangers also help to build up more information about Pangolin populations so that the data can be used not only in terms of conservation but also where to look out for poachers.
To try to tackle the trafficking itself DSWF work with government agencies and help to fund local law enforcement operations, including undercover investigations, to uncover and combat illegal trafficking of Pangolins.
The Foundation also have local ambassadors, particularly in Kenya, who educate communities about Pangolins, teaching not only about the creatures themselves but also how they benefit the environment and local economies. People are also encouraged to record sightings of Pangolins they see. Since they are quite elusive creatures this helps to build up a better picture of Pangolin populations.
In ‘consumer countries’ DSWF works to try to teach people about Pangolins to reduce the demand for their scales and meat. In China they worked on a campaign with actor Jackie Chan, and a different campaign in Vietnam managed to reach around six million people. As with Rhino horn, the line between respect for traditional medicinal practices and the conservation of endangered species is a delicate one, but also important in shifting attitudes and understanding the consequences of the use of such products.
If you’re interested in supporting the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Pangolin project you can ‘adopt’ a Pangolin ambassador (Marimba). This money goes towards their work in Africa and Asia to protect and educate about Pangolins. In my ‘adoption’ pack I got a lovely certificate with a picture of Marimba and a Pangolin art print (see top photo), a Pangolin photo, an info sheet, and the DSWF’s annual magazine. The Foundation also have projects/’adoptions’ for other endangered animals, including the African Elephant, Rhino, Snow Leopard and Painted Dog. You can explore their adoption page here: https://davidshepherd.org/adopt-an-animal
These chonky pinecones are dear to my heart and I wanted to share a bit about them. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Pangolins and some of the conservation efforts to protect them.
Imbolc ushers in a time of waking up and opening up. With the depths of Winter receding the light begins to return. The blooming Snowdrops bring a sense of renewal and hope as we wait for Spring’s arrival.
Greetings, and welcome to December! This Yuletide I’m focusing on my beloved Welsh spectral horse, Mari Lwyd. Friday Finds features a selection of handmade Mari items and artwork that can be found on Etsy. Most items are under £30, and there are some lower priced items here too. Please be aware that there may be extra taxes or fees when ordering from outside your own country.
DISCLAIMER: All image rights belong to their creators. I am not affiliated with Etsy or any of the creators mentioned. I enjoy connecting people with handcrafted items, small businesses and the works of other creatives.
Let’s start with decorations – Yuletide isn’t the same without ‘decking the halls’, and if you want to incorporate Mari Lwyd into your scheme this year here are some creepy-cute ideas:
If you’re more of a crafty sort then a Mari-themed embroidery or cross stitch pattern may be the perfect seasonal project:
If you’re looking for art cards or a print to bring Mari into your home this Yuletide there are a range of styles that may suit you. From traditional to modern to cute, Mari Lwyd has provided inspiration for a number of different artists:
Last but not least, how about some wearables? Maybe you’re into t-shirts, maybe jewellery is more your thing… or perhaps you want to dress up as Mari yourself!
I hope you've found some interesting ideas and inspiration for adding Mari Lwyd to your Yuletide celebrations this year.
Wishing you all a very happy festive season, Michelle
I’m still in a Witchy doodling mood so I’m working on various elements I can add to different scenes.
Although I’m loathe to recommend a certain company, their tablet and ‘pencil’ have been a game changer for me in terms of making digital art more accessible. Since I can’t use a computer much for now, being able to create while sitting in/on my bed has meant a lot and has helped me feel more creative generally. Chronic illness, especially when it leaves you mostly bed-based, is difficult at the best of times but finding little ways to keep going and stay as positive as possible is a major part of my self-care practice.
Creativity can help with mental and emotional wellbeing, and for some it can even become a form of therapy. It can become a way of channelling emotions and mental energy in a positive way. For some of us creativity is our lifeblood, and any way we can bring more of it into our lives helps us to keep going even in the most difficult or challenging times.
Creativity doesn’t have to be restricted to art, though. There are many ways to be creative. If art isn’t your thing then you can incorporate something else that makes you feel creative as an outlet to help with your own self-care practice.
I’ve been in a Witchy mood today and started a project I’ve had on my arty to-do list for a while. I sketched out some pictures a while ago and now I’m starting the digital versions. These are very simplified at the moment, but when I’ve finished all the ones I’ve sketched I’ll be adding more colours and details. For now though, I’m just happy to make a tiny bit of progress as my health and brain fog haven’t allowed for much digital art lately.
I thought I’d write about a book I bought recently called Sekhmet’s Servant: Kemetic Daily Devotional, by Megan Zane. I’ve been following Megan’s blog Iryt-Ra for some time and when I saw she was releasing this book – and seeing previews of the artwork – I knew it was one I wanted to add to my collection.
Sekhmet’s Servant: Kemetic Daily Devotional is a 200 page paperback self-published through Lulu (also available on Amazon). It’s packed full of beautiful colour illustrations, informative text, writing prompts and Devotional pages dedicated to different Ancient Egyptian Deities. Megan starts by explaining a bit about the book, with tips and ideas for how to make use of it, including as a literal daily Devotional or by picking a page at random (which is what I’ve been doing and have found it very effective). The names of the Deities are Their Ancient Egyptian ones rather than the more widely used Greek versions, so Isis is Aset, Osiris is Wesir, etc.
The Decan Gods are explored and explained, with lovely illustrations of Them in the barque ready for Their journey across the sky. There’s also a bit about creating a shrine and the concept of prayers. A number of prayers for different purposes like healing, prosperity and protection are given, as well as ones for different Moon phases. Offering practices and appropriate Blessings are explored next, followed by a section on different components of Rituals.
The following chapter will be great for beginners and those unfamiliar with the religious and symbolic concepts associated with Ancient Egyptian religion. It’s called ‘Themes in Mythology’ and explains in a simple but informative way concepts like Ma’at, Heka, Ritual purity, the Duat, the journey of the Sun and the journey through the Afterlife, as well as Apep ‘the unnamed one.’
The back of the book is dedicated to resources pages, with lists of Deities that are connected with certain animals, a list of functions and associated Deities, common symbols, and a recommended reading list.
The main body of the book is divided into chapters for the different Ancient Egyptian seasons, with a list of festivals associated with that period, prayers for the festivals, writing prompts for journaling, and daily Devotional pages dedicated to a specific Deity. What’s nice is having morning and evening pages for each day, too. Each page has a little picture of the Deity, prayers and mini invocations, and a brief description of Them. Morning Devotions have red details, evening ones are in lilac. The Epagomenal Days have their own section, with illustrations of the relevant Deities – Osiris, Horus the Elder, Set, Isis and Nephtyhys. Interspersed with the writing prompts are beautiful full-page full-colour illustrations of various Deities.
I wanted to find a way to reconnect with the Ancient Egyptian Deities after a long period of difficulty in my Spiritual Practice, and this book came at the perfect time. The daily Devotion format helped me to open up little ways for Them to enter, and for me to call the Deities into my daily life again. I don’t generally resonate with a lot of others’ Devotional prayers, etc, as I usually prefer to create my own, but I really like the ones Megan has written for this book. I was also drawn to the artwork, and the combination of the beautiful pictures with the daily Devotion aspect is what makes this book really stand out for me. I haven’t bought many books or ebooks on Spiritual or ‘Pagan’ topics the last few years, but this one really speaks to me and I’ve found it a joy not only to work with but to look at and dip into at random.
The Kemetic Daily Devotional is also an inspiration piece for me. I’ve wanted to create my own illustrated books for years. Seeing a quality self-published book filled with so many full-colour illustrations and the author’s own unique style of writing gives me encouragement for my own creative dreams.
I haven’t been able to do much artwork lately, but thought I’d share a pic I made of Mari Lwyd as a Kelpie. Mari continues to inspire me, coming back in and out of my life at various times. In this form I’ve given her seaweed hair with pearls in. When the muse pays a visit how can I say no? 🙂
A regular part of my self-care and wellbeing routine involves Oracle Cards. Sometimes they offer a different perspective, sometimes they give insight, and sometimes they’re a cheerleader telling me to keep going. However, I realised recently I hadn’t worked with many of my Decks for a while. In the midst of another health relapse I can’t easily (and regularly) access the box containing most of my Cards.
Luckily I had a brainwave and made some changes. I already had two Decks out on my altar shelves, along with The Herbal Healing Deck, which I use for weekly readings. Looking at them with fresh eyes I realised that while there’s not room to have all of my Decks out I did have room for a few more if I rearranged a bit. So I pulled out the box I needed, rested, then got out my most-used Oracle Decks. I separated them from the ones I use less often and those used for more specific purposes, and put them to one side.
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