Friday, September 30, 2011

Modern Kabbalah Basics & the Tree of Life

The ancient school of thought that is known as Kabbalah has recently enjoyed some newfound popularity in the past few years; because of celebrities such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Lady Gaga wearing Kabbalah bracelets and speaking out about Kabbalah's positive aspects, this practice has become a subject of newfound public interest. Ancient Kabbalah has much in common with the modern version with which we're currently familiar, but the modern version has evolved into something somewhat different as well.

Kabbalah's history originates in early Jewish mysticism. It has grown and evolved into various different forms since its beginnings, including Christian Cabbalah, Islamic Kabbalah, Practical Kabbalah, as well as more secular versions that we often see today, such as Hermetic Qabbalah (spelled with a "Q" to differentiate it from the other versions, as opposed to those which are specifically associated with the Abrahamic religions). Many modern practitioners of Kabbalah are not affiliated with any specific spiritual doctrine, instead choosing to treat it as an independent school of mystic thought.

The origins of Kabbalah are said to have begun with Moses himself, as legends have told that he received Kabbalah teachings on Mount Sinai; the ten commandments were to be distributed freely and taught to everyone, yet the Kabbalistic teachings were reserved only for a chosen few, to be practiced with utter secrecy and shared with extreme discretion. Another legend involving the Kabbalistic origins says that these mystic teachings were with mankind from the very beginning of our existence, bestowed to Adam at the time of his banishment from the Garden of Eden.

Although there are many mystical and spiritual teachings within the Torah and other Judaic writings, the Kabbalah was considered to be the most important of these at the height of its prevalence. Kabbalistic tenets are viewed by many as highly spiritualized information that transcends the beliefs of most organized religions, and therefore is more spiritually flexible and can apply to people of various faiths. Because of this flexibility, Kabbalistic teachings have moved from being a strictly Judaic faith-based concept into a more secularized version of itself, to provide motivation, insight, and strength to people of all different spiritualities and cultures. The modern-day study of this ancient practice is associated with the "Perennial Philosophy," which is the concept that there are truths which overlap throughout all of the world's primary religions. The Kabbalah's tenets are utilized to help recognize and build upon the philosophies of various spiritual traditions, by eliminating all except the very basics of each teaching.

The mystical properties of Kabbalistic teachings are such that, instead of directing the practitioner to conduct of a strict set of rules and practices, it will instead guide each seeker on a path which is personal in nature, even while the practice is a communal and social one. The journey of Kabbalah is one of mystic philosophy, as opposed to one which is based on a strictly religious dogma.

The essence of the Kabbalah's teachings is condensed in a diagrammed classification system which is known as the Tree of Life. This image is comprised of ten spheres (called sephiroth), representing objective existence; these are connected by a total of twenty-two paths which represent the human condition. it has 10 spheres, or sephiroth, and 22 paths connecting them, which represent the human condition. The Tree of Life serves as an implement which can be used to study and compare religious thought as well; in fact, it was described as a "spiritual filing cabinet." by occultist Aleister Crowley.

 The Tree of Life can also be applied toward other practices, including rituals and meditation, as well as being used in the philosophical method which was its original intent. Each sephiroth and path can be associated with archangels, angels, spirits, and other symbols which represent the nature of these entities.

Additionally, much of the magical property of Kabbalistic practice can be explained through modern scientific thought. An ideal example of this would be the invocation, where a Kabbalistic practitioner will call upon a spiritual power within him- or herself. It can be thought of as a supernatural occurrence, however when one applies scientific knowledge to this practice, it can also be explained as a psychological phenomenon of one who is able to harness their own subconscious mental energies.

You don't need to be Jewish, or even religious at all, to appreciate the Kabbalah and to enjoy the ways that its mysteries can enhance your life.

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Ways to Use Crystals

Crystals can be wonderful tools to promote healing, cleansing, and tranquility.  But there are new ways to try them too -- like these below.

Aid your meditation or relaxation by placing your favorite tranquility crystal on your brow chakra (the "third eye" in the middle of your forehead).  This energizes your mental and intuitive energies while relaxing your physical body.  Try a green crystal to help relax you.

Protect yourself from danger, negativity, or other undesirable situations.  Visualize your crystal filling with a spiritual white light and surrounding you with a protective force.  Fill the entire room with this light.  Imagine it "locking out" things which are harmful or bad, protecting you and sealing in your positivity.  Visualize the walls, windows, and doors locking out any potential threats to your well-being.  Blue gemstones are best for this.  You can also couple this with a mantra or even a simple declaration that you are protecting yourself, in the name of your chosen deity -- God, Jesus, Goddess, Buddha, anyone you worship -- or no deity at all, if you so choose.

 One's ability to visualize such things can be an invaluable technique.  The crystals can help you center that visualization and focus it so that your intentions can go in the right direction.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Astrology & Job-Styles

These are just a few tweets that I did this morning. Adding them here for posterity -- I'd sure like to do an entry for each sign and their work styles in the future, it would be a lot of fun! :)

Aries are motivated people & love to stay on top of their goals. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Taurus are great with #money, and tend to be awesome at #cooking too! #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Gemini loves communication; a great sign for people in #sales, #film, or #writing. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Cancer are often sensitive; their moods can change with the #moon. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Leo would rather give orders than take 'em! They're loyal & love to teach. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Libra sometimes have trouble making decisions because they're so objective. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Virgo are reliable, loyal, & awesome at staying organized. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Scorpio are forthright & honest friends. Even if the truth hurts, they tell it! :) #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Sagittarius would do well in a career involving travelling & adventure! :) #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Capricorn are practical & work hard; don't mind starting at the bottom & working up! #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Aquarius are smart but can be misunderstood because they're often ahead of their time. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Pisces are intuitive & creative, would do well w/ small business in a field they love. #astrology #zodiac #horoscope

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Astrological Compatibility Chart

This weekend, I constructed a basic chart for compatibilities based on astrological sun signs.  This is some very simple, basic compatibility data.  For best results, I'd recommend checking the natal charts of yourself and the person you're analyzing.  Even so, this is a nice quick-and-dirty bit of information that may help you learn a bit about yourself and someone else.  (Note: I may even make a YouTube companion video for the chart -- we shall see!)  To see the chart in a larger format, just click on it below.

1.  Hearts.  Generally a great dynamic with lots of attraction.  Called "conjunct" by astrologists everywhere, it is a dynamic that is very beneficial because you can understand one another quite well: your likes, dislikes, and values will very likely be quite similar.  Sometimes this can cause friction, since occasionally people who are extremely alike may annoy one another and know how to push one another's buttons; however, in any case, these people will often have an innate knowledge and understanding of one another.  Love 'em or hate 'em, this often proves to be a very emotionally intense relationship.  Includes:  Aries and Aries, Taurus and Taurus, Gemini and Gemini, Cancer and Cancer, Leo and Leo, Virgo and Virgo, Libra and Libra, Scorpio and Scorpio, Sagittarius and Sagittarius, Capricorn and Capricorn, Aquarius and Aquarius, Pisces and Pisces.

2.  Thumbs-Up.  You've got similarities and complimentary styles.  These dynamics are "trine" and often quite positive for friendships, romances, and family relations.  While there are enough differences in, say, execution and expression of personal style, many values will remain similar between the two of you.  This is often a very respectful and close partnership where both people can feel an instant connection.  Includes:  Aries and Leo, Aries and Sagittarius, Taurus and Virgo, Taurus and Capricorn, Gemini and Libra, Gemini and Aquarius, Cancer and Scorpio, Cancer and Pisces, Leo and Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, Virgo and Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, Scorpio and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, Sagittarius and Aries, Sagittarius and Cancer, Capricorn and Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo, Aquarius and Gemini, Aquarius and Libra, Pisces and Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio.

3.  Peace Sign.  Called a "sextile," these are signs which have complimentary elements that "feed" off of one another's differences.  You and the other person may not be similar in a lot of ways, but you genuinely like and respect one another.  This makes for a very interesting partnership and it can help you learn a lot about yourself, as well as appreciate the differences that other people have to offer.  Great for collaborations, and also makes for very interesting friendships and romances. Signs which are sextile include:  Aries and Gemini, Aries and Aquarius, Taurus and Cancer, Taurus and Pisces, Gemini and Aries, Gemini and Leo, Cancer and Virgo, Cancer and Taurus, Leo and Gemini, Leo and Libra, Virgo and Cancer, Virgo and Scorpio, Libra and Leo, Libra and Sagittarius, Scorpio and Virgo, Scorpio and Capricorn, Sagittarius and Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius, Capricorn and Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces, Aquarius and Sagittarius, Aquarius and Aries.

4.  Swirly Arrow-Circle Thing.  These are known as "opposition signs" because they are at a perfect 180 degrees apart in the zodiac -- and yes, opposites do attract!  While there can often be an extreme and intense attraction between these two signs, it can also be a very trying dynamic.  Dealing with someone who is so different than you can be wonderful and intriguing, yet also dramatic and frustrating at the same time.  It takes two very special opposition parties to overcome the differences and see them through to get to the other side -- if and when this happens, your relationship can be a match made in heaven!  This compatibility includes:  Aries and Libra, Taurus and Scorpio, Gemini and Sagittarius, Cancer and Capricorn, Leo and Aquarius, Virgo and Pisces, Libra and Aries, Scorpio and Taurus, Sagittarius and Gemini, Capricorn and Cancer, Aquarius and Leo, Pisces and Virgo.

5. Purple Smiley.  This is known as a "semi-square," which can create some tension since these placements will fall either before or after your sign.  While this can prove to be tough going for some relationships where emotions run high (such as a romantic or family dynamic), it can often be the basis for great friendships regardless of the differences which are present in those signs.  Often this makes a good alliance for people who have similar goals, and there can also be a lot of complimentary input and ideas coming from both sides.  While there are differences, the parties involved can often seen one another's point of view with a bit of extra effort in communication, and the relationship which results from this hard work can be very fruitful indeed.  Signs with this aspect include:  Aries and Pisces, Aries and Taurus, Taurus and Aries, Taurus and Gemini, Gemini and Taurus, Gemini and Cancer, Cancer and Gemini, Cancer and Leo, Leo and Cancer, Leo and Virgo, Virgo and Leo, Virgo and Libra, Libra and Virgo, Libra and Scorpio, Scorpio and Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius, Sagittarius and Scorpio, Sagittarius and Capricorn, Capricorn and Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius, Aquarius and Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, Pisces and Aquarius, Pisces and Aries.

6.   Grey "Ehh..." Smiley.  It is formally known as a "quincunx" or, sometimes informally, called an "inconjunct."  This indicates a separation of about 150 degrees, both before and after a sign's opposite.  Often there is little attraction between these signs, and sometimes even what one may consider "bad chemistry."  There are often few similarities in personality or values, and frequently one sees differences and areas where criticism can pop into the picture.  In the best of cases, this dynamic may ultimately elicit boredom, and in the worst of cases, a lot of stress and headaches for all parties involved.  Placements include:  Aries and Virgo, Aries and Scorpio, Taurus and Libra, Taurus and Sagittarius, Gemini and Scorpio, Gemini and Capricorn, Cancer and Sagittarius, Cancer and Aquarius, Leo and Capricorn, Leo and Pisces, Scorpio and Aries, Scorpio and Aquarius, Libra and Taurus, Libra and Pisces, Virgo and Aries, Virgo and Aquarius, Leo and Pisces, Leo and Capricorn, Virgo and Aries, Virgo and Gemini, Libra and Taurus, Libra and Pisces, Scorpio and Aries, Scorpio and Aquarius, Sagittarius and Taurus, Sagittarius and Cancer, Capricorn and Gemini, Capricorn and Leo, Aquarius and Cancer, Aquarius and Virgo, Pisces and Leo, Pisces and Libra.

7.  Thumbs-Down.  Astrologists call this aspect a "square" as these are the signs which are 90 degrees apart from one another.  These signs often suffer a very disjointed relationship with one another.  Communication can be difficult, values and outlooks on the world may be very contrasting and also too difficult to understand.  Often we find ourselves attracted to those who "square" us, yet the clashes and upheavals which come from a lack of understanding can make this dynamic challenging at best, and just unbelievably crappy at worst.  Proceed with extreme caution!  This aspect includes the following signs:  Aries and Cancer, Aries and Capricorn, Taurus and Leo, Taurus and Aquarius, Gemini and Virgo, Gemini and Pisces, Cancer and Aries, Cancer and Libra, Leo and Taurus, Leo and Scorpio, Virgo and Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius, Libra and Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, Scorpio and Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, Sagittarius and Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, Capricorn and Aries, Capricorn and Libra, Aquarius and Taurus, Aquarius and Scorpio, Pisces and Sagittarius, Pisces and Gemini.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bathing Ritual to Renew Your Spirit

I just came across this charming post at the simple-living blog "Down To Earth" which encouraged its readers to share a photograph and to explain a bit about it.

The one that I chose was this picture, which I'd recently taken and had been meaning to add to my blog for some time now.  This past year, I had recently discovered how wonderful it was to take a long, luxurious soak in the tub.  One of the awesomest things about taking a big ole' bath is that anyone can do it.  Doesn't matter if you're old, young, rich, or poor -- if you have access to a tub and some water, you can make it an amazingly sensual experience no matter what other accoutrements you choose to add.

There's a joke that goes something like, "You know you're ghetto when you break out your best dish detergent when it's time to take a bubble bath," but really, who cares?  It makes no difference if you bathe with a 3-for-99-cents bar of soap from the dollar tree or a pot of $140 Russian Amber shampoo by Philip B., you can make your tub time truly luxurious with only a few little additions.

I like to add a few candles on the edge of my tub; they need not be expensive (and if you can make your own candles out of leftovers and an old spaghetti jar, so much the better!) but they certainly can lend an air of tranquil pleasure to your bath.  You can even find an artificial candlelight generator app on your Android phone (if you're so blessed), which I've done more than once.  The one I have (which I downloaded for free) even gives you customizable flame colors -- purple flame, anyone?

And bubbles are nice, but not always necessary -- by the way, I recall a few times where my own mother broke out the Ivory or the Palmolive dish liquid when, as a child, I craved bubbles in my bath.  If it's not going to harm your skin, who really cares?  No shame in being creative.  These days, I save my pennies for the luxury of something special from the Lush store when I can get it (and use it carefully).  But even bubbles from your dollar store or local pharmacy will do the trick wonderfully.

You can also add specific herbs and items to your bath to cleanse your soul and enhance positivity.  A bit of rose oil or dropping in rose petals for love, some sea salt to purify your energy levels, lavender to relax, rosemary to energize, or a sachet of fresh or dried basil to attract prosperity and positivity... these can all replenish your spiritual energy and give you a whole new lease on life!

Some folks choose to do their entire beauty regimens in the bath -- shaving legs, deep conditioning hair, even wearing a facial masque while splashing away in the tub.  And some people bring a cocktail (or in my case, a nice cold can of soda) into the tub, sipping their cares away.  Or, you can just relax and allow your tension to melt away, enjoying the sights, sounds, and scents of your spiritual bathing experience.  The bottom line is that your bathtime rituals can be fully customizable and specifically tailored to your needs and wants.

So grab your rubber ducky, and your favorite towel, and enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hooverphonic: Mad About You (Lyrics & More)

I love this song by Belgian pop group Hooverphonic.  It is really meaningful to me, because it so hauntingly and accurately describes the nature of toxic relationships, codependency, and addiction issues.  People can indeed become addicted to drama, and feed off of one another's unhealthy energies.  Sometimes, the feeling of being in love with someone that you know is bad for you -- feeling out of control because you want someone so bad -- can be exhilarating even while poisonous at the same time.

And here are the lyrics:

feel the vibe, feel the terror, feel the pain
it's driving me insane
i can't fake
for god sakes why am i
driving in the wrong lane

trouble is my middle name
but in the end i'm not too bad
can someone tell me if it's wrong to be so mad about you

mad about you

are you the fishy wine that will give me
a headache in the morning
or just a dark blue land mine
that'll explode without a decent warning

give me all your true hate
and i'll translate it in our bed
into never seen passion, never seen passion
that is why i am so mad about you

mad about you
mad about you

trouble is your middle name
but in the end you're not too bad
can someone tell me if it's wrong to be

so mad about you
mad about you

give me all your true hate
and i'll translate it in your bed
into never seen passion
that is why i am so mad about you

mad about you

Pic by Ph.Viny and shared with Creative Commons license. :)

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