Influence of Culture in My Spiritual Practice

Friends!  I’ve met so many amazing people through social media (primarily Instagram) who share my interests of tarot and exploring spirituality.  We all have different specialties, or areas on which we like to focus.  Because of this, I’m bringing on some awesome guest bloggers at Exploringly Yours to share their knowledge of different topics on which I’m not particularly well-versed.  Today’s Guest Post is by my lovely friend, Dianna.  I got to meet Dianna in person last time I was in Chicago, and we had a lot of fun exploring local metaphysical shops (which was a bust, unfortunately), and drinking beer at Revolution Brewing.  Dianna introduces herself below so I’ll turn it over to her…….

Hello Exploringly Yours readers!  Before we dig into talking about my experience with how culture has shaped my spirituality I wanted to give you a brief introduction.  I am a fellow tarot and oracle card reader, crystal lover, and aspiring writer.  I am also a mom of two, I was born in Mexico and now live in the USA.  By day I work in a health center doing community engagement, I get to meet a lot of people and create content for social media.  By night I am an Instagram enthusiast, you can find me at @unearthing_the_gift_.  I also have a blog, which you can visit here.  I’m excited to share with you how my culture has shaped my current spiritual practice and I hope that you will share how your culture has, or has not, impacted your spiritual practice in the comments.

First, I thought I would share what my current spiritual practice looks like.  I am not a religious person, so I don’t follow a set religion.  That said, I am fascinated by religion in an intellectual level and love learning about the different beliefs systems in the world.  I don’t believe spirituality and religion are mutually exclusive, I do think that sometimes religion has lost the spirituality part, but that is a topic for a different blog post.

My current spiritual practice involves the use of tarot and oracle cards for reflection and guidance.  I incorporate crystals into my spiritual practice during meditation and when I am reading cards.  I also connect with Spirit Guides and Ascended Masters and consider them important partners/teachers in my spiritual journey.  (Julia Eve wrote a great guest post about that too, which you can find here.)   More recently I have started to learn about the Akashic Records and hope to be able to use this new skill to help others get closer to their soul’s purpose.  I also use writing and journaling as a tool in my spiritual practice.  I love exploring different ways of expressing and experiencing my creative and spiritual journeys.

My Mexican heritage has influenced my spiritual path in many different ways.  Being Mexican means that I am a place/person where the convergence of two distinct worlds (the pre-hispanic and the Spanish) takes place.  Both of these worlds, which collided a long long time ago, have rich and deep cultural and spiritual histories, which I am just beginning to discover.

When I was growing up in Mexico, although my family and I weren’t Catholic, many of the celebrations that the whole town took part in were Catholic with underlying pre-hispanic rituals/beliefs woven into them.  Catholicism in Latin countries (as in other countries) is inextricably woven in with pre-hispanic religions.  In small towns you have the priests, the doctors, and the curanderas (witch doctors/healers) as the three figures of authority who can perform healing.  My family, and everyone else really, went to la curandera to heal ailments of the spirit which were being manifested in the body, el mal de ojo (the evil eye), el susto (best described as chronic spiritual sickness), las limpias (spiritual cleansings).  I was taken to la curandera a few times, and my mom and grandpa used to do a “diy” version of limpias at home too.  

Many of the things I am learning now as I develop my spiritual practice are things that I had already witnessed and participated in before.  This has helped me feel more comfortable with adopting spiritual practices, especially when their background is pre-hispanic civilizations.  I feel I have a claim to them, that it is okay for me to use them, and that I am not appropriating them.  Appropriation is a topic that has been on my mind for a while.  For example, I also feel a great interest in Celtic spirituality, but I am not a Celt or of Celtic heritage, so I ask myself: do I have the right to lay claim to Celtic beliefs even though it’s not my culture?  I have decided that it is okay do follow your spiritual path where ever it takes you.

I still have much to explore and learn, which is exciting.  My spiritual practice is continually evolving as I learn and discover new ways of connecting with Spirit.  Connecting with my roots and Ancestors is a message that I have been receiving through my card readings and dreams lately and I hope to continue to explore that in the months to come.  On my list of things to explore are also shamanism, celtic spirituality, and the Popol Vu (one of the few pre-hispanic holy texts that survived colonization).  

I wanted to leave you with a little something to help you explore how your own cultural roots are shaping your spiritual practice, so here is a small spread to help you get that started.

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  1.  The current state of my spiritual journey.
  2.  What three gifts has my cultural background/heritage bestowed upon me to help me in my spiritual journey?
  3.  In what subconscious ways is my cultural background/heritage influencing my spiritual journey? (Pick one or more cards).

If you do the spread let us know in the comments, I’d love to hear how it went!

Thank you Alaina for this opportunity to contribute to your lovely blog!

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How cool.  I’d love to hear in the comments how any of you have been affected (or not!) by the intersection of culture and spirituality.  What practices have been passed on to you by your family, are inherent to communities you grew up in, or a part of cultures you belong to?  What influences you now that may not be part of what you were taught when growing up?

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

An Introduction to Working with Spirit Guides

Friends!  I’ve met so many amazing people through social media (primarily Instagram) who share my interests of tarot and exploring spirituality.  We all have different specialties, or areas on which we like to focus.  Because of this, I’m bringing on some awesome guest bloggers at Exploringly Yours to share their knowledge of different topics on which I’m not particularly well-versed.  Today’s guest post is from Julia — she introduces herself below, so I’ll just turn it over to her….

Since this isn’t my blog, I suppose a little introduction is in order. My name is Julia and you can find me over on my little corner of the web, Spiral Sea Tarot. While the majority of what I share and discuss is regarding Tarot, there are many other branches of metaphysics that I study, participate in and weave into my practice. One such topic is that of Spirit Guides. I became interested in this concept many years ago, and over time, my understanding has evolved and interest increased. A couple of years ago I dived deeper into this world, attending lectures and finally taking a course, which really only grazed the surface. Truly, what has helped me to understand this branch is direct experience, and because I am a Tarot enthusiast first and foremost, my work with this realm needed to incorporate that tool. While this post will not focus on the system I developed, which uses Tarot to connect with a member of our team and learn more about who they are, I will provide a high level overview of Spirit Guides, so you can begin to understand how they are assisting you behind the scenes.

For starters, you don’t have to know your spirit guide team intimately, by name, to enjoy their presence and incorporate them into your practice. In fact, it is my belief that whether we regard them or not, they are always present. Even if we aren’t consciously aware of our team, we do receive insights from them, perhaps even often. For example, a flash of insight as you’re going about your day. Or a gut feeling that you just can’t shake. Or even in dreams may they use the opportunity to get to us. It doesn’t have to be this big, paranormal experience. Our guides are with us offering nudges and whispers for an unlimited array of things, mundane to mystical.

So, who are these mystical beings? How can we be more aware of their presence? And how does Tarot fit into all of this? Let’s start with the basics. What are Spirit Guides? Speaking broadly, our guides are beings working with us and for our benefit. Each of us have our own unique makeup consisting of some entities who have been with us since incarnation (and beyond) and some who are present just to assist with specific goals.

The types of guides that exist are vast. For many of us, we have a mix of guardian angels, archangels, ascended masters and ancestors, but those are just the basics. Through my studies and experience reading for others or having myself read, I have come to know other types. For example, Goddesses (or other representations of divine feminine), astral or exterrestrial guides, animal guides and more. But there is one guide that is common to us all, and that is the Higher Self. This is the you that you access when you consult your cards (knowingly or not) and the you that comes out to play during dreams and other states of consciousness. It’s actually quite active all the time, but the logical or “left brain” tends to shut it down when we’re not in that receptive state. This form of you exists beyond the physical body and is intimately connected to your ethereal records, which is why it’s the perfect source to connect with to seek guidance on your own life path and purpose.

With all of our guides, there are some simple ways to begin to recognize their presence. I’ll use the example of reading tarot since this is where I access my team the most. There are two main ways that I can identify guide interjection as opposed to the “left brain” drawing conclusions, and that’s through what I call a flash of insight or rapid internal dialogue. When I’m reading, it’s easy to start connecting pieces together, but in doing this, it’s also easy to identify where a thought or idea stemmed from; it has a path back from which you can follow. With guide interjection, I find the thought just appears. It even feels subtly different, as if it just popped in without any help on my part. The idea itself is usually not related to anything else I was thinking and can’t be traced back easily. The other way I can distinguish guide interjection is through rapid internal dialogue. This is where I start zoning out a bit and having a conversation with myself, but very rapidly, where the answers to questions come very quickly, without awkward pauses or fillers (hmm, ummm, uhhhs). So if you’re in the middle of a session, and a thought, word or image flashes in front of you and seemingly from nowhere, you can thank your Higher Self and spiritual team for the insight!

There is another quick way to identify if the flashes, insights and guidance you’re getting are from your Higher Self/spiritual team and not simply from the ego, and that is by their tone. Your spiritual team isn’t going to berate or judge you, so if these are the thoughts you’re having (whether about yourself or others), it’s likely from the ego place. Sometimes it can get a bit lost in translation through the human filter, but messages from spirit and high self should at least be neutral in nature.

So should you invite your Higher Self and spiritual team into your tarot reading sessions or other practices? Absolutely. While they will be there anyway, providing a direct invitation helps solidify that bond. You can do this very simply by stating the intention and making the ask. When I am opening up a session, I will say something along these lines: “I am now connected to my spiritual team and Higher Self and I ask that only messages from high spirit connect with me during this session.” I say “high spirit” to help distinguish between lower guides who may be trying to “help”, but that’s another topic for another day! Another way to amplify your connection is by incorporating crystals. I use the following when I’m reading, but also keep some on my bedside table. This is, by no means, a conclusive list:

  1. Celestite: One of my favourites. Celestite is a soft and soothing stone that helps open our hearts to the spirit guide realm.
  2. Angelite: This stone is especially potent for bridging connections with the angels.
  3. Clear Quartz: Clear quartz is a natural amplifier and boosts everything else around it. It can increase the magnitude of our intentions and boost the power of other stones nearby.
  4. Selenite: Clears, cleanses and allows for the connections that we form to flow more freely.
  5. Moonstone: Different types of moonstone serve different functions, but aid in the ability to amp our psychic senses and connect with our own goddess energy within.

We’re really only just scratching the surface of the spirit guide realm, so hopefully this will be enough information to get you thinking about the ways in which your team has been supporting you and how you can better hear their guidance. But, before I go, I will leave this post with one final offering, being a spread that I’ve developed to consult your higher self regarding your current path and purpose. Feel free to use tarot or oracle or a combination of both, or even adapt the prompts to your liking.

higher-self

Card 1 – What should I be focusing on at this time?
Card 2 – What should I remove from my focus?
Card 3 – What direction does my current path wish to move toward?
Card 4 – Am I currently on that path?
Card 5 – If not, how can I course correct? If so, what can I do to maintain my trajectory?
Card 6 – What other message do you have for me at this time?

I hope you’ll enjoy the spread and leave feeling a bit more informed and connected to the supportive team around you. If you’d like to discover more about the Spirit Guides, the different types and learn my unique system for using tarot to connect directly with a member of your team, you’ll have to join me for the upcoming class I’m teaching through Pull-Pen-Paint. The entire course will also feature 11 other teachers from around the globe and span the duration of a month. My specific class will be a 90 minute live and interactive session, where you can expect to start to bridge the connection between you and your unique team.

One thing I can say, through my own experience, is that this realm does like to be acknowledged. They love when you make discoveries about yourself, and them, and take up new ways to invite them into your life and make use of their guidance. So be open to the subtle suggestions, no matter how silly, and honour those gut reactions, even if they defy logic. This is your team and Higher Self using your intuition to help you walk the best and most informed path. The best part? It’s absolutely free wisdom just waiting to be taken advantage of, and the more you do, the clearer the channel will become.

Happy connecting!

Meditation for the Highest Good

Friends!  I’ve met so many amazing people through social media (primarily Instagram) who share my interests of tarot and exploring spirituality.  We all have different specialties, or areas on which we like to focus.  Because of this, I’m bringing on some awesome guest bloggers at Exploringly Yours to share their knowledge of different topics on which I’m not particularly well-versed.  Today is the first guest post, from Leanna — she introduces herself below, so I’ll just turn it over to her….

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Hello!  I’m Leanna Christie from Clarity & Calm.  I’m truly blessed to have connected virtually with Alaina on Instagram, and we now co-host the #virtualmoonrituals there and on Facebook (*you can view our past rituals at the “Virtual Moon Ritual Collective” link above).  I love writing and speaking about meditation, as I believe it’s truly a universal tool for connecting to our clear and calm centres.

Meditation can be a tool for many outcomes, and the one that I’m exploring today is how to collectively achieve the highest good.  The highest good would be the outcome that is beneficial to all.  It would be something like the universal principles of love, kindness, or non-judgment.  When we focus our attention on anything, we send energy there.  When we as individuals choose to focus our attention on something in particular, our brains love it.  They love paying attention.  And when we repeatedly pay attention to one thing in particular, our brains start to form new neural pathways, like little rivulets of water that grow deeper and stronger every time we focus there.

So, if we focus on one theme — say the theme of loving-kindness to all beings — repeatedly, we create a path of ease that, in a sense, allows us to return our thoughts there with ease, any time we wish.  Now, the effects of this focus are greatly multiplied when it’s not just ourselves placing focus on an area, but a collective group.  Focusing our collective attention on the greater good, on loving-kindness, creates new collective neural pathways, that are ingrained in the energy of an entire society.

With focused attention on a common theme, especially when done at the same time, collectively as a group we can make waves.  We can bring new energies to the world.  We can shift the collective programming to a more loving, inclusive, peaceful way of being.

How to get started?

As an individual, you can place your focus during meditation on a theme of love or inclusivity.  Each other individual who also brings their focus to these themes, even across space and time, will contribute some energy to this outcome.  Gradually we can build new habits not just in our own lives, but in our larger societies.

Your practice

Starting a meditation practice is a very personal thing.  You’ll know best what time works for you during the day.  Try to choose one or two times that you can consistently show up for, and schedule them into your day.  Make a commitment to your future self to meet them at that set time, and show up.

Choose an area of focus that feels really important to you.  You can look up guided meditations on that theme, or simply sit in quiet contemplation on your own.  You can pull tarot or oracle cards for insight on the theme.

Bring your focus lightly to the theme you’ve chosen.  Allow it to really fill your body, and mind.  Allow it to sit deep within you, and notice how it begins to change you from within.  Send loving energy deep within yourself, and let it grow outwards until it both fills and surrounds your body in space.  Send that loving energy that grew outwards out towards all beings.  Mentally wish for all beings: May all beings be safe.  May all beings be happy.  May all beings live with ease.

After you’ve sat in meditation for however long you like, take some time to journal or record any thoughts, feelings, or ideas that came up from this loving space.  When you meditate, you are tapping into a deep inner wisdom.  You may find yourself at your most creative immediately after sitting for your practice.

Taking Action

Use the ideas or energies you’ve awakened during your meditation to affect your daily life and the lives of others in a positive, strengthening way.  Take the loving energy you’ve built and treat complete strangers as though they are dear friends.  Take the creative energy you’ve built and design beautiful art that makes people weep.  Take the world-changing energy you’ve built and stand up for the freedoms of all.  There is truly no limit on your potential to affect change.

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Thank you, Leanna, for these suggestions on meditation.  Tapping in to the collective highest good is certainly important in today’s political climate.  Head over to Leanna’s site for more info and support on getting started with, and continuing, your meditation practice.

Do you have a regular meditation practice?  How do you feel about tapping in to the collective to affect the highest good?  Share any questions or ideas in the comments below!

Exploringly yours,
Alaina x