Monday, January 29, 2018

This Week's Card: The Wheel of Fortune.

Coming after last week's Nine of Cups (which turned out to be a great omen for me!), there's the Wheel of Fortune tarot card.

This is another good omen, though not quite as unambiguously so as the Nine of Cups. Where the Nine of Cups represents a culmination of sorts, the Wheel of Fortune is more like a step in a process. The wheel is neverending -- it inevitably rolls onward, cycling through feast and famine, good times and bad. This is a chance to influence its direction.





The Wheel of Fortune card illustrates the cycles of life. Everything has its season. That said, this doesn't mean that we're passive recipients of whatever fate chooses to hand us -- upright, the Wheel of Fortune also indicates consequences for one's actions. People often use the word "karma" for this, but that's not really accurate. Karma is a specific concept that relates not only to how a person's actions influence their life, but also their position in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In a non-religious context, the Wheel of Fortune tarot card's meaning is closer to the idea that you're going to reap what you now choose to sow. Even if you are at a point where you're doing more reaping than sowing, how you choose to act will affect your future. Will you be complacent and rest on your laurels, or will you continue to push forward? If you are at a low point, will you wallow or will you remain optimistic and persevere?

The Wheel of Fortune card can also indicate a turning point. It may not seem to be a good at first blush, but it provides the opportunity to act in a way that offers increased happiness and abundance. Though it depicts the inevitability of change and the fact that there are some things in life we just can't control, we can control how we respond to them.

Whatever is coming up may look like a very good opportunity, it may not. Nevertheless, it is an opportunity. Take this  chance to choose to stay on the side of good and ensure you're in a position to enjoy the benefits in the future.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Trichotillomania: A week or so after shaving my head.

In case you missed my Instagram story the other day, I showed how my hair has been growing back since I completely shaved my head. This was mostly because, since I was dealing with the damage of trichotillomania, I wanted to camouflage the spots that had been plucked clean and avoid having it look all patchy.



So, I kept my hair shaved completely for a bit. The last time I shaved it was roughly a week and a half ago. Now that my hair's had the chance to grow back a bit, how is it doing?

It's a bit tough to tell yet. My hair grows pretty quickly, so the spots that were completely bald are starting to fill in, which is great! Unfortunately, as anyone who religiously plucked their eyebrows can tell you, hair just kind of stops growing back if you're persistent enough about yanking at it. Plucking gives way to traction alopecia, which gives way to damaged follicles and scar tissue. Eventually, those plucked-bald spots just stay that way.

Is my hair growing back?


I have a few places that are most likely not going to fill in completely, but that's okay -- I kind of knew that going in. I can't quite tell the full extent of the damage, though, because hair that has been pulled out takes a bit longer to grow back than hair that's just been cut. So, even though my pulled spots are growing back, it's going to be a solid couple of weeks before I can really figure out what I need to do in the future.



This spot is right along where my part was, and one I pulled from frequently. It's going to take a long time to grow back, and, even then, may not do so completely.


Do I still want to pull it out?


I do still feel the urge to pluck sometimes, but it isn't nearly as strong as it was back when I was able to indulge it regularly. It's easier for me to identify triggers now -- like boredom -- than it was when I subconsciously resorted to hair-pulling right away.

Interestingly, I've caught myself developing new ticks in its place. Most of them are actually odd little behaviors I used to do as a child, before I began pulling my hair.

Is this curing my trichotillomania?


I don't know. Honestly, I'd be very surprised if shaving my head "cured" it -- trichotillomania is a notoriously difficult issue to treat, even by professionals. That said, even if shaving doesn't get rid of it entirely, having very short hair is allowing my poor head to heal and letting me exist without constantly worrying what my hair looks like. Even if I'm not cured, I'm still benefiting from having shaved it!

Worse comes to worst, I may just decide to keep it very short.

What else am I doing, besides shaving my head?


I have a bunch of other strategies I'm using to help my hair and scalp be healthier and control the impulse to pull and pick at my hair. I'm most likely going to break some of those up into their own posts so I can go into greater detail, but they include:

  • Redirecting the impulse onto other things.

  • Using a special hair potion to help my hair grow back stronger.

  • Meditating to help control my stress levels.

  • Habit-breaking spells.

  • Using bamboo silica, biotin, and zinc.
Even though I haven't been able to see a huge difference yet, I'm feeling pretty good about my decision!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Nine of Cups

I've been getting back into the habit of drawing a card once a week, as a kind of barometer and meditative aid. It hasn't been something I've posted about, but I might start -- it's helpful to write these things down, and, if my experience can be helpful for someone else, it's worth the tiny effort of posting.

This week, I drew the Nine of Cups!

[caption id="attachment_4056" align="aligncenter" width="514"] From the Animalis os Fortuna deck.[/caption]

 

The Nine of Cups is a very positive, uplifting card. The little stingray sits contentedly, surrounded by the bubbling cups. It is comfortable and happy. The Nine of Cups signifies re-connecting to the things around you that allow you to feel contentment and enjoyment, no matter how hard the road has been. It is comfort, happiness, and the fulfillment of desire.

This card represents more than wealth and the manifestation of material desires, though. The suit of Coins or Pentacles has much to do with material prosperity, but Cups speaks to a more emotional and spiritual meaning. In the rider Waite tarot, the Nine of Cups card portrays a well-dressed man sitting in front of an arch of golden goblets. He has achieved success and contentment both materially and spiritually, and can sit back to enjoy what he's accomplished.

Some sources call the Nine of Cups tarot card the "wish card," since it often means an upcoming granting of your heart's desire.

Personally, I've had a lot of things that have been in the working stage, so I'm particularly happy to have drawn this card. It can be easy to succumb to greed in the rush toward contentment, and forget to enjoy what has already come to be. Even though I'm far from being finished yet, it's time to enjoy the things that have unfolded thus far.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Lodolite Love Affair

Note: This post contains some affiliate links to things I thought were pretty neat. These allow me to earn a small finder's fee, at no additional cost to you. All images are the property of their respective owners, and appear here via a URL preview widget. Thank you for helping to support independent artisans and this site!

Have you ever stared into a lodolite crystal?

They're clear quartz (usually, though some may be smoky) but, within their depths, entire worlds unfold. Inclusions of chlorite, iron oxides, feldspar, and other minerals create elaborate scenes of miniature forests, branches of coral, or landscapes that look like they belong on some distant planet. They're amazingly beautiful, and taking the time to contemplate the tiny inner worlds within them is a very peaceful, grounding activity. Sometimes, lodolite is referred to as "shamanic quartz," "garden quartz," or "scenic quartz." It's said to help with meditation and journeying, as well as having all of the properties usually ascribed to clear quartz.

Specimens can be tricky to find sometimes -- it's not often that you find pieces of quartz with a lot of inclusions and enough clarity to really appreciate them. The highest quality pieces of lodolite look like they encapsulate entire countrysides, while other specimens may only have a few clouds or tufts of bright color within them. When they're cut or polished, they can make for absolutely stunning jewelry.

Check out some of these pieces:



This lodolite sphere pendant ($45) by AllsNotLostDesigns combines the beauty of chlorite-included quartz with antiqued copper. Per the listing, "[t]he inclusion of CHLORITE minerals in this quartz sphere blends the energetic properties of both minerals, making it a powerful tool for healing, grounding, and connecting with nature. Scenic inclusions not only make this crystal a natural wonder, but also augment its beneficial properties."




I love the detail of the spirals in the wire work. It's a really beautiful piece.

 

 

 

 

Green Phantom Quartz Pendant Necklace: Raw Lodolite Healing Gemstone Crystal, Chlorite, Shamanic Dream, Wire-Wrapped, Nickel Free Copper



If you prefer the rustic, natural look of rough crystal, this green phantom quartz necklace ($75) by DoodlepunkArt is a great addition to your collection. The green coloration comes courtesy of chlorite, which gives this stone a particularly lovely, aquatic, dreamlike appearance that's beautifully offset by the antique copper.


These necklaces are made to order, so each one is a unique piece of wearable art unto itself.




 

 

 


Chlorite Phantom Quartz Macrame Necklace



I'm a sucker for beautiful knotwork, and this phantom quartz and macrame piece ($35.95) by TalesofUsJewellery is particularly pretty. I love the combination of the black cord with the dark green chlorite -- the deceptive simplicity of the macrame really does a lovely job of showing off the detail and inclusions within the stone.

Per the listing, "Affirmation: I link myself to the Earth and the world of Nature, finding there the keys to inner balance, health, and well being."




 

 

 

 

 

 


Set of 5 Natural Lodolite Quartz Points / Chlorite Inclusion Phantom Crystals #4



 

If you are interested in working with lodolite in a metaphysical capacity, or just want materials to craft your own jewelry, these rough lodolite specimens ($22) from KouvaDreamCatchers are a good place to start. I have several stones from this seller already, and all of them have been very high-quality pieces. A photo really can't do them justice -- they have to be seen to really appreciate the detail in their inclusions.





 

 

 

 



Purple Garden Lodolite Ring



definitely couldn't finish this post without mentioning this stunning lodolite ring ($170) by RenateSurh. The undulating spirals of purple, silver, red, and deep green almost look like waves, or some strange species of moss. It's like a forest scene frozen in time -- the longer you look at it, the more colors and details emerge. There's so much texture within the stone, it's almost hard to believe it's all held inside a smooth, polished quartz crystal!




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you worked with lodolite? What have your experiences been?

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year, No Hair.

After nearly twenty years, I am completely done with trichotillomania. I shaved my head.

Well, technically didn't -- my wonderfully kind, supportive S.O. did. He told me I had the facial structure to pull it off, and, if it was really something I wanted to do, I should.




See, I've dealt with trichotillomania of varying severity since my teens. Sometimes it would be bad enough for me to have large bald patches, sometimes noticeable only as a slight widening of my part. Treating trichotillomania is notoriously difficult, and, even with therapy, many people struggle for years. Some may stop pulling their hair out, only to start again weeks, months, or even years later.

It's kind of a multi-faceted thing, for me:  I have sensitive, itchy skin, and pulling the occasional hair provided relief. It's also something I tend to do more when I'm anxious or bored. There's also a definite sense of satisfaction, however strange it may seem, from getting a "good pick" -- finding a hair that was a different color or texture from my others, and pulling it out. Hair-pulling combines physical sensations, obsessive-compulsive characteristics, and even the kind of relief you only get from satisfying an addiction. It's a terrible, difficult, embarrassing thing to deal with.

Even beyond the pulling itself, trichotillomania causes a lot of anxiety and depression. When you have patches where you've pulled out hair, you worry about what they look like. I confined myself to one or two hairstyles that I knew would let me cover my spots, and would never let anyone else touch, cut, or style my hair out of shame.

Finally, I figured... screw it.

It's just hair. I like having long hair -- I've kept it that way for most of my life, and absolutely never had anything shorter than a chin-length bob -- but if it's only causing me grief and anxiety, why keep it? Sure, society generally has some stares and comments about female-passing people who don't have hair, but there are examples all over of beautiful, confident, feminine people with shaved heads or alopecia. Besides, I've never been much good at living my life by committee.

I'm not entirely used to it yet. I still have moments where I go, "HOLY CRAP, I'M BALD," but I'm glad I did it. It has done a lot for my confidence, since I no longer have to worry about what my hair looks like. Without hair, I can also try to transfer the trichotillomania impulse to something less harmful (I've found a ton of really pretty spinner rings) or even break the habit entirely. I've also received a lot of really supportive comments from people around me, which feels amazing -- not only because they're an ego boost, but because they serve as a reminder that I''m surrounded by people who care.

Do you have trichotillomania? Have you done anything to combat it? If so, what worked for you?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I Left Salad Dressing By My Couch for Science Reasons.

Remember when I spent a week rubbing fruit garbage on my face and filled my socks with onions?
Strap in, 'cause I'm back on some nonsense again.

It's 2018 now, and there's no better time to do a home cleanse to get rid of all of that old, stagnant, cruddy energy, and make room for the good stuff. Have you ever had a day when your house just feels different? Maybe you've had company over, or you've argued with someone, and your space just isn't the same afterward. Not the kind of emptiness or subtle loneliness that naturally occurs after good friends depart, but just different. A sticky kind of unpleasantness, like you need to clean all over again.

Or maybe you've had a bad day, and can feel it tainting your living space -- a place that should be your sanctuary.

If you've experienced any of these things, you're in luck! The internet has a solution!

(Best of all, if it doesn't work, it'd probably taste okay tossed with a little olive oil, feta, and spinach.)

I'm talking about the Vinegar, Salt, and Water room cure.

Why Vinegar, Salt, and Water?


Why not? They're frequently used in DIY house cleaners, and I don't know any witch who doesn't occasionally rely on them for cleansing. For people who use them often, there's nothing too outlandish in the idea that placing a clear glass of vinegar, salt, and water in a room will help clear it up a bit.

[caption id="attachment_3991" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Ta-da.[/caption]

The Experiment.


So, the vinegar, salt, and water room cure is almost self-explanatory. You add the ingredients to a glass, set it down somewhere, and wait a day or so. If the water evaporates below the level of salt in the glass, do it over. The guide I linked above says that the glass must be kept out of sight in order for the cure to work properly -- having worked with salt, vinegar, and water in a metaphysical capacity, I am calling shenanigans.

Nonetheless, in the interest of science, I hid it beside the couch where I couldn't see it, as the instructions dictate.

[caption id="attachment_1647" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Fortunately, I keep enough jars and bottles around that nobody was likely to notice an extra glass anyway.[/caption]

The Good.


Salt, water, and white vinegar have a lot of history as metaphysical cleansing agents, so I'm kind of surprised to see them pop up in places like Pinterest. Maybe I shouldn't be, though -- a lot of the less "scary" aspects of witchcraft have drifted into the mainstream with the new age movement (for good or ill), so now even those who're the most staunchly anti-witch are getting on board. (Oops.)

To be honest, this didn't feel a whole lot different from other occasions where I've used vinegar for energetic cleansing. Usually I don't bother adding water to it -- you want an easy, quick way to help a space feel less bleh? Pour a little white vinegar in a dish, and let it sit in the middle of the room for a day or so. You can also add vinegar to floor washes, or use it to wipe down door frames, mirrors, or windows. If you want to make a special herbal vinegar just for this purpose, I've got my recipe for Four Thieves Vinegar up.

Anyhow, energy aside, vinegar and salt are good for physical cleaning. Allowing a dish of vinegar to evaporate is also a good way to deodorize an area. At least the proponents of using vinegar, salt, and water aren't claiming it'll detoxify you, cure cancer, or treat physical symptoms, right?

The Bad.


Oh, wait. Of course they are. Signs of a buildup of negative energy are said to include "lethargy, brain fog, and sluggishness." Unfortunately, these are also signs of things like vitamin deficiencies, unstable blood sugar, and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you're experiencing these symptoms often enough for them to be a chronic problem, set up a glass of salt, vinegar, and water, but do it after you buy a carbon monoxide detector and schedule some blood work to make sure you're not neglecting part of your physical health.

Everyone's body is different. People who work with energy manipulation know how it affects them, and can effect the appropriate countermeasures (for example, I feel the complete opposite of that list of symptoms). Recommending energy cures to inexperienced people looking for a fix for their lethargy and brain fog strikes me as irresponsible, to say the least.

There are also some claims floating around that a glass of this mixture can also "detoxify" a space. The thing is:

  • If the vinegar, salt, and water operates as a filtration medium, having no source of air movement means it won't work very well (doubly so if it's placed behind furniture or in other hidden areas).

  • If the mixture is supposed to operate by evaporating and binding to compounds in the air, again, the lack of air movement means it won't get very far or work very well.

  • Vinegar does not remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It may keep you from smelling them because of the strength of its scent, but it doesn't remove them. Acetic acid is a VOC. Sure, I wouldn't class it the same as something like toluene or naphthalene, but it's still important to understand what VOCs are and how they operate when you're talking about things that impact indoor air quality.


 

There are also claims that it can help you detect whether or not negative energy has built up in a space. I didn't test this aspect of it out, but I also wouldn't rely on this. Negative energy, to me, is basically shorthand for subtle energy that makes a space feel oppressive or unbearable. If it feels bad to you, cleanse it until it feels right again -- regardless of what a glass of water, vinegar, and salt (or a dried lemon, or a chime, or a stream of incense smoke) tells you.

The Ugly.


There isn't really anything, honestly. As far as internet stuff goes, this is pretty innocuous. It might suck if you accidentally knocked it over onto an antique Persian rug, but that's about it. I doubt that children or pets getting into the mixture would be too much of a problem, either -- it's all non-toxic food ingredients, and the salt and vinegar is probably too strong for them to do more than taste it before deciding to leave it alone.

Conclusion.


As part of a feng shui cure or means of cleansing a space energetically, there's no reason why this wouldn't work. I mean, it did alright by me. On the other hand, if you're expecting it to alleviate the symptoms of a medical condition or remove things like VOCs from your space, you're gonna have a bad time.

Instead of relying on the salt, vinegar, and water mixture alone, try switching your cleaning products over to low-VOC or homemade versions, buy plenty of houseplants, and invest in a good HEPA filter to remove particulates like pollen, dust, and soot. If you're experiencing physical symptoms, visit your doctor for some blood work to rule out an underlying medical condition, then take a good look at your diet to make sure you're not experiencing sugar highs, crashes, or dehydration.

Have you ever tried the vinegar, salt, and water room cure? How did it work (or not work) for you?