Receiving An Education

Today’s Daily Post prompt asks us what we’d study if we could go back to school right now.

I think it’s really important to note that in my life, I’ve been mostly lucky when it comes to education. First off, when it came time for me to go to undergrad, I was a bit smarter than the average bear, and I got accepted into a good school with a full scholarship (which I promptly lost as a result of my complete inability to 1) figure out how to go to the doctor, and 2) stay awake in 8am classes, but that’s another story). I was much smarter, spiritually, as a late teenager than I was for years after that, so I went with my intuition and studied what I wanted to study – not what people told me I SHOULD study. I think it’s really important to listen to what your heart is telling you it needs to learn, and back then I needed to learn medieval history & sociology through its art and architecture.

After undergrad, I went back to grad school twice. For my first master’s degree, I studied the preservation of historic architecture. However, after I graduated it became clear that the only jobs in my field that paid would require you to work to tear down old buildings, not help them survive. That’s not my game, so I didn’t play. I’m so happy, because it’s what The Man does for a living, and it’s terribly depressing to hear him talk about all of the old buildings that get razed in favor of crappy condos and shopping malls.

My second master’s degree was in internet marketing, and it’s come to good use. One day soon I hope to put it in use in the non-profit sector, and move fully into a career where I can work to help people every day. I don’t know how, just yet, but it will work itself out in time. I’m still exploring my options.

So I feel like I’ve got my career taken care of, and there’s no real need to go back to school to improve my chances of climbing the corporate ladder (etc.). That being said, what else do I want to study?

Oddly enough, I’ve been thinking about that for awhile. Obviously I love school, and the thought of stopping my education here at 31 is just not an option. Right now, there are five things that I’ve been considering studying next! It’s just a matter of when I’ll get the money and time to go back to school.

1) Pagan Studies. I want to understand more about my spiritual calling, and be able to incorporate more magick into my everyday life. I’d love to be well-versed enough to progress to the point where I can help others. If I had to follow today’s prompt to the letter and quit my everyday life to go back to school for one thing, this would be the subject. It has profound impact on how I live the rest of my life, and I want to do it “right.”

2) Reiki. As an empath, I have a natural ability to read energy, but I don’t understand it well at all. I’d like to become more familiar with energy work.

3) Pet Massage. I love animals, and would love to be able to help heal them for a living. Massage is great for people AND animals, and it’s a growing field. It would be fun to be able to provide that kind of service to pets and their owners.

4) Bikram Yoga. I need to go back to Bikram. It’s time. But more importantly, ever since my very first week of Bikram, I just knew I was going to be an instructor one day. I’d like to start building up my experience to be able to go to teacher training and get certified!

5) Fertility Awareness Method Counseling. True, I’ve got a long way to go in getting this stuff down for myself, but I love it. I want to learn as much as I can on my own and with guidance, then go to the training courses to get certified to be an instructor.

My New Smudge Stick

I bought a smudge stick while The Man and I were in Salem. I’ve seen them before in lots of other places, and have wanted one for years but always balked at the cost. Yes, I know they’re not that expensive, but for some reason I can always think of something else I’d rather spend the money on. But when we were in Salem, after doing a few hokey Halloween-y things and visiting a few historic spots, I dragged The Man into a couple of magick supply shops. I didn’t know exactly what I needed, just that something should be going home with me. I glanced over the smudge sticks in one shop, gently handling one, wondering if that was what I had come for. Instantly, a man called out “You don’t want that type – you’re looking for something with juniper!” I glanced up, startled, and he smiled. “You’ll prefer the juniper, it’s what you came for.” How could I refuse such a direct command? I quickly picked one of the other types of smudge sticks he was talking about, one with shasta sage and juniper, and sure enough, I loved the smell.

I’ve never smudged my own home before, though my roommate once cleansed our apartment, or tried to. It was a very negative space, and the cleansing didn’t work well, perhaps because neither of us really believed it would. My current home is a pleasant, safe place, and the only negativity in it belongs to the two humans who make it home. The Man and I are both realistic, with a slight dip in the negative direction. I wouldn’t call us pessimists, but neither of us is an optimist, that’s for sure! I’m slightly empathic, and I used to be much more positive before meeting The Man, but feel that I’ve picked up some of his emotional grey-ness over the five years we’ve been together. Today I woke up with this overwhelming thought that I needed to start over, to hit the reset button, and part of doing that would be expelling all of the left over negative energy that we have brought into this house since we moved in. It’s going to take a lot more than that, of course; it’s going to take changes in the way I encounter life, and let it encounter me, and it’s going to take meditation and prayer with intent, which is really a way to constantly hit the reset button, every day.

But first, smudging. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew that the most important part of the process was to believe in it, and throw all of my good energy into making it work. I prepared by lighting a candle, after reading that it’s easiest to light a smudge stick from a candle rather than a lighter or match (or series of matches). I also found a bowl and put a little water in it. Traditionally, the parts of a smudging ceremony have to represent the elements, with the herbs of the smudge stick representing earth, the burning end representing fire, the smoke representing air, and the bowl representing water. I didn’t have a shell (which new-age sources say to use, but some Native American sources say definitely not to use), but I had a large, beautiful brass bowl carved with rippling waves, into which I put a little water just to solidify my intentions. I lit the smudge stick, and first used it to cleanse my energy, passing it over every part of my body and envisioning the smoke touching the energy field around me and carrying away the negativity and sickness that I’m currently feeling. I thought of healing, and light, positivity and focus for my writing career and personal life. Pretty much instantly, I began to feel physically lighter and mentally sharper. I felt relaxed and loose in a way I normally don’t. It was a great way to feel, kind of the way I feel after an intense jam session, after I’ve sung my heart out for an hour or so.

After cleansing myself, I then worked my way around the house, holding the smudge stick at every corner, door, window, and around the perimeter of every room, then to the center. I didn’t know what to say at first, but a vague prayer popped into my head: “Bless this house. Take away all negativity. Allow only beauty and light within these walls.” I said it over and over as I walked through the house, letting the smoke work its way around and through, carrying away all traces of negativity. I spent some extra time in a particular corner that my cats always spend hours looking at, where I’ve never seen a bug or even a shadow of movement. I figured it couldn’t hurt.

A few hours later and I’m still feeling good, relaxed, mellow. I wonder what the medicinal properties of the sage and juniper might be, and if that also has an effect on mental wellbeing. If so, it’s a welcome addition to my normally addled brain. The smoke smell is still around the house, and it’s lovely. Like I said, I’ve never felt ill at ease here, but if I’m going to start to make our life together more positive, I’ll need all the outside help I can get. Plus I suppose it’s good for me to get into practice with making my home spiritually safe, given the fact that I know when we buy a permanent home, it will be historic and most likely in need of a good cleansing.

Other than that, I’m also pretty excited. On a whim yesterday, I searched for classes in magickal topics, and ended up finding an online college for pagans. I’ve been pagan for years, but have had a hard time trying to incorporate magick into my everyday life just through reading books. Finally I’ll have a chance to learn with other people in an open-minded setting that doesn’t just cater to Wiccans (which I’m not). I’m really looking forward to this semester’s classes, “Intro to Numerology” and “Intro to Sabbats & Esbats”. Best of all, the school is free! I’m really looking forward to learning more about this kind of life. My belief in magick is very firmly rooted in my belief in science, and the fact that everything we know and see is composed of energy. Magick, like Reiki or more basically, like a defibrillator, is just collecting, optimizing and releasing the Universe’s energy for a specific purpose…in this case, to beautify and simplify life and help me bring health and happiness to those around me.