January Challenge – 30 Day Magical Roots

I don’t know about you, but I love a good 30 day challenge. I’ve decided to make it a semi-regular thing to pick a challenge and let it guide me through my studies. My January challenge is Plentiful Earth’s 30 Day Magical Roots.

I am so excited to start! This challenge is all about exploring your own magical practices, branching out, and finding what works for you! I’ve figured out a fair amount about what I like to have in my practice but I know this will help me develop and fine tune it just a little bit more.

I am going to share my journey of this challenge with you in two ways.

The first is Instagram! If you don’t already, head over to Instagram and follow me @apaganmess. I’ll be posting daily about what I’m learning! If you would like to join me (and some other awesome witchy people as well) post about it and use the hashtag #30daysmagicalroots!

The second way I’ll share updates is right here on this post! rather than flooding you (and overwhelming myself) with a daily challenge post in addition to my already scheduled posts, I’ll just keep adding to this one!

Stay tuned and let me know if you participate in the challenge!!

30 days of magical roots

Day 1: Divination

Today’s challenge is to use your favorite divination tool to answer “what should I focus on this month?”

I used my primary yet still kind of new method, runes.

I haven’t used my runes a lot for divination yet and when I do use them I usually follow a spread from one of my books. Today I chose the more traditional approach, throwing.

rune throw

I used my intuition to figure out what runes to read and how, I loved the process.

When I was pulling runes out of my pouch, Fehu (strength) fell out face up. I took this to mean I needed to pay attention to it and interpreted it as an overall need to focus on the things I can control and my strengths when it comes to wealth.

The second thing I read was the grouping of Gebo (gift), Raido (travel/transportation), and one face down rune. I wanted to think about this cluster first since it seemed unrelated to the others because of its distance.

I think this is touching on how I was recently gifted money to use for getting a new car, I need to focus on following thorough with that. The face down rune I took to be an undercurrent to that focus, which worked well since it was Laguz (lake) – I need to follow my intuition when making the decision.

Next I went to the bottom left cluster. Nauthiz (need) and Kauna (torch/enlightenment) paired, Thurisaz (thorn) and Jera (year/cycle) paired, and one upside down next to the first two.

Nauthiz and Kauna were a reminder of a reading I did last week about my career that boiled down to needing to put hard work into sharing knowledge.

Thurisaz and Jera took me a little longer, but I came to interpret them as a warning about the cycles I tend to get into of growing and then getting in my own way.

Between the pairs, face down, was Sowilo (sun). Taking this again as an undercurrent, for the first pair I interpreted it as the joy that will come as a bonus to following through with my goals. For the second pair it was more about keeping a clear focus through the hindrances that will come up.

The cluster of three face down runes I decided were not meant to be paid attention to.

The face down rune in the center I interpreted as not something to directly focus on, but to keep in the back of my mind throughout the month. It was Tyr (victory). A wonderful rune to have for this. Tyr is all about victory, success, and stability. All of the things I am striving for in not only this month, but for this year.

I found this to be very encouraging and a positive start to my year!

Day 2: Grounding

One day I’ll devote a post to grounding and centering. Today is not that day.

There are a lot of different methods for grounding. I’ve found a few that I love and they’re all for different purposes.

One is what I use when I’m feeling anxious, a version of the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method. This is where you take time to notice something from each of your senses, 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, etc.

I can never remember the order the senses are supposed to go in so I just start observing things; what I see, hear, smell, the texture of the clothes I’m wearing, if I have a certain taste in my mouth. It calms me down and helps me clear my mind.

Another version, what I’ve used as a daily practice and need to get back in to, is done through meditation. It’s definitely paired with centering, In this version I don’t feel like I can ground until I’ve centered.

I think about sensing my own energy and the energy around me and drawing it to my center (centering), then I focus on my connection to the earth. The way I do this varies based on how I’m feeling or what I’m getting ready to do. Today it was sort of a magnetizing feeling, sometimes its sending roots into the earth.

The other version is grounding back to the physical after doing spell/ritual work. All this one is is eating something to reconnect to my body.

There are so many views on what grounding is, when it should be used, and how to do it. The important thing is to find what works for you.

Some people like to ground by walking barefoot outside. I love this method when the weather is right and I’m in a safe spot to do it.

Other people like to use stones to help them ground. Hematite is great for this as it is very dense and remains cool to the touch for a while which can be very soothing.

I don’t yet have a post about grounding. Until then, here’s one of my favorite views on it from one of my favorite podcasts, 3 Pagans and a Cat.

Day 3: Breath Work

Technically today was also for centering, but I touched on that briefly yesterday and wanted to focus on breathing today.

I have a post all about breath work and breathing exercises in the works, so I won’t go too far into that in this update!

This is one of the exercises I focused on today, it’s one of my very favorites!

Counting Breaths

Day 4: Intention

I started today’s challenge with reflecting on my history with intention and goal setting.

I like to keep myself busy, but I don’t always put that busy energy in the right direction.

I love setting goals but don’t always have the intention to match.

This leads to a lot of unfulfiled goals, good habits that don’t stick, and spells that don’t work.

Magic is all about intention so not having that squared away has definitely been holding me back.

One of my goals for 2019 is to fix that. To follow through with goals and do more things with full intent.

As for this challenge, I have two main goals that I fully intend to follow through with:

  1. Explore new things
  2. Find two or three new practices to do daily

Day 5: Energy Work

Energy work is exactly what it sounds like, working with energy.

A basic exercise, the one described in this challenge, is to form an energy ball with your hands. To do this you rub your hands together then once they’re warm pull them apart about six inches. Then you bring them in and out until you feel a ball of energy form. From there you can expand it.

I have a hard time with energy work. It used to come naturally but these day’s it’s more difficult.

I tried two different approaches. The first was rubbing my hands together more gently and moving them apart gradually. I didn’t get much of anything and was disappointed.

I took a break and focused on a little unrelated ritual.

After the ritual I tried attempt two. For this one I rubbed my hands together more aggressively and sharply pulled them apart. And I got it! It wasn’t very strong but I was able to expand it a little and my hands were very tingly in a way that was more than just friction.

If any of these exercises don’t come easily, don’t worry. Some of them take practice and some things are easier than others. And different things come more naturally to different people

Day 6: Shielding

Shielding has been an adventure for me. The first time I tried it I was using a method saw from a few different sources. The idea is to sense your own energy, not your center but the layer of energy closer to your skin, and expand it to form a bubble around you.

This strategy wasn’t working for me. So I relaxed. And I focused on my intent to form a shield without putting a specific image to it.

Then giant golden wings shot out my spine between my shoulder blades and formed a shell around me.

It was pretty awesome, not gonna lie.

When I sat down to explore shielding today, that was what I went to first. I found it again but it wasn’t as strong as it was before. I was okay with that but decided I wanted to give the other method a shot too.

I started with sensing energy throughout my body, once I got a good feeling for it I tried to expand it but it wouldn’t go beyond my skin.

Then I focused on the layer of energy I felt around me. It was like a film swirling on top of my skin.

After exploring that feeling, a mild trance state, and some reflection, I came to the conclusion that I need to focus more on breaking down barriers instead of building them.

I’ve unintentionally built a lot of emotional and energetic walls over the years. They keep a lot of good stuff out and a lot of bad stuff in.

It’s time for me to break some of them down and regain control of my shields!

Day 7: Yoga

I love yoga. I’ve loved it for years and I’m excited to start incorporating it into my spiritual practice!

The prompt for the challenge is to choose one yoga pose a day for the rest of the challenge.

I decided to take a pose from yin yoga because I plan on meditating in my yoga poses and need something I can hold for a longer period of time.

Description of Yin Yoga

I went to my favorite yoga source on YouTube, Yoga with Kassandra, for my pose. Kassandra specializes in yin yoga and has sequences that focus on chakras, moon phases, solstice/equinoxes, and elements!

I chose to start working with chakras and did the first pose in her root chakra yin yoga video.

It was a refreshingly different experience that brought a different energy to my meditation, something I need as someone who gets bored with routines.

I plan on cycling through chakra poses for the rest of this challenge!

Day 8: Write a meditation

I’ve been starting my daily meditations with roughly the same breath work sequence, I’ll guide you through that as well as a visualization I do when I feel like my energy is blocked.

To start, find a comfortable seated position. I like to sit on a pillow on the floor either cross legged or with the soles of my feet together. Put on some gentle background music if you’d like, or light a candle or some incense.

Sit tall but relaxed. Place your hands on your knees, palms up if you want to receive energy, palms down if you want to draw focus inward.

Let your eyes close softly

breath work

Start with observing your breath. Don’t change anything, just observe.

Inhale deeply, filling your lungs and letting your belly expand. Exhale through your mouth as if you are fogging up a mirror. Repeat two more times.

On your last exhale, push out all of the air in your lungs.

Let your breath return to its natural rhythm.

When you find a steady rhythm begin counting your breaths. Start with counting exhales. Once you’ve reached ten, count ten inhales. Try to not let your counting affect your breath rhythm.

If you lose track while counting, start over, take your time.

Check in with your body. Relax any unnecessary tension. Check your shoulders, hips, belly, jaw, and forehead.

Now come back to your breath.

Inhale for four counts, hold for four. Exhale for four counts, and hold for four. Repeat this as your mind and body find deeper relaxation.

Gradually shift your focus to your center, the energy center in your body. I find mine in my chest, about where my heart chakra is. Some people feel their center in their naval, or somewhere in between.

Feel your center build and swirl with every inhale, feel energy pour through your body with every exhale.

If your energy feels strong, stay here with it for as long as you like. Feel the energy flowing through and around your body.

Allow yourself to ground into the earth. This might feel like roots extending into the earth, a magnet keeping you secure, or maybe you are part of the sand at the beach.

If you find your energy a little weak, you’re having trouble finding it at all, or it just feels stuck, continue to follow along.

Otherwise, stay focused on the feeling of energy through your body and bring yourself out when you are ready or wait for me to guide you.

Energy clearing

Feel a soft golden light radiating from a few inches above the crown of your head.

Let it spread down to your forehead, nose, chin, let it run down the back of your body as well.

Feel it move down through your throat, your upper chest, and your ribs.

If the light gets stuck, let it linger, let it melt any blockages in its way.

See any negativity clearing away as a murky mist or dust and send it down toward the ground.

Keep spreading the golden light down your body in this way, removing blockages, clearing negative energy, and leaving bright, clear, fresh energy in its place.

Take your time.

Once you’ve let the light shine all the way down to the floor, let yourself sit in the glow for a few breaths. Feel the fresh energy moving throughout your body, nothing stopping it.

Now bring your attention to the murky mist of negative energy. Gather it into your hands, then press it into the ground. Let the earth take it, she’ll transform it into something new, something positive.

Repeat this if you need until you’ve removed all of the negative energy from around you.

Give your hands a gentle shake to remove anything that lingers.

Stay here for a few more breaths.

Now slowly reconnect yourself with your physical body and your surroundings. Sense the fabric touching your skin, remember the space around you.

Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Stretch your arms and legs, move through the kinks in your spine.

Take one big stretch up to the sky and when you’re ready, open your eyes.

Day 9: Daily Practice

Right now I don’t do many magical things throughout the day. I’m working on changing that and my morning tea has been my first step!

I’ve made myself green tea to start my days for a while now. Lately I’ve been taking it to the next level with some magic.

I stir in two things:

  • Honey – for happiness and hard work
  • Cinnamon – for energy (and also just because I love it)

I stir clockwise focusing on my intention.

Honestly, I don’t always stir with intent. A lot of times I’m just going through the motions. But the framework is there for when I do want to really focus on it.

Day 10: Herb/Plant/Tree

Life was a little crazy today so I went easy on myself. It’s important to know when you need to take a break and rest.

I did make a point to observe the trees outside my window during a wind storm. I am always amazed at how resilient trees are, they constantly adapt to their conditions and can withstand some crazy things!

Day 11: Write a spell

I don’t do a lot of spell work right now. I do the occasional full or dark moon ritual but that’s about it. When I do get around to doing a ritual I much prefer to improvise rather than write something out.

But, just so I can experience it, I want to write a spell by the end of the month!

Day 12: Deity

I recently wrote posts about my theistic and deity beliefs so I won’t go in to too much detail here.

The short version is, I’m a pantheist and I believe deities are representations of the energy of the Universe.

I don’t currently work with any deities but if/when I do, I will view them as energies rather than independent beings

Day 13: Stone/Crystal

100% transparency here, crystals are not my thing.

Most of the time when you see witchy people talking about their practice, crystals are involved somewhere, somehow.

It just doesn’t jive with me.

I don’t deny they have energy and what not. Though, like with most things, I am skeptical of their power.

With that being said, I do have two I work with a little here and there.

My runes are bloodstone. Bloodstone is deep green with red splotches. It is beautiful and good for grounding, something I think is awesome for a divination tool.

I also have a desert rose. They are a type of gypsum that looks like a sandy rose. Very unique in appearance and good for intuition, decision making, and motivation, among other things.

My desert rose is the first (and at this point the only) crystal I got with the intention of working with. It’s my experiment crystal. I haven’t worked a lot with it so far but do plan on meditating with it more.

Day 14: Incense

Today’s task was to write a recipe for incense, bonus points for making it!

I didn’t want to jump into combining ingredients for incense without knowing what burning them smells like.

So I did some experimenting!

I grabbed some herbs and spices from the kitchen cabinets and burned them one at a time on a charcoal disc.

It was fun and interesting. Some things smell great burning, others not so much. Rosemary, cinnamon, and cardamom were my favorite

Day 15: Kitchen Witchery

I didn’t get around to this one today but I incorporate kitchen witchcraft elements somewhat regularly.

I make sure to stir things clockwise and like to look up herbal correspondences when I use a new herb.

Day 16: connect with mother earth

I actually did this one yesterday!

I went on a hike with one of my best friends. It was a beautiful spot on a hill near the woods. It was one of those places that has a network of trails, some have a view of the mountain, others go through the woods. We wove are way through a few of them.

It was a windy and cold day. The only time we got a break from the wind was the stretch of trail that went through the woods. This was my favorite part, not only because of the trees shielding us from the wind, but because it felt wonderful to return to the trees.

I grew up next to the woods and walked through them to and from school almost every day for four years. I miss my time among the trees. I felt right at home and very happy.

Day 17 - Raise some Energy

My favorite ways to raise energy are to dance and sing. Often at the same time.

I’ve danced since I was three and have listened to a lot of music since I was in the womb, so I’ve used these for energy raising without that label for years!

I put on one of my favorite songs and let my energy build with the music, singing and dancing as I wanted.

Since I did this in the evening, I didn’t want excess energy floating around when I’m getting ready to wind down. So I held my runes and thought of the energy I was raising going into the runes to charge them.

You could also toss the energy up into the air or use it to charge sigils or something for spell/ritual work.

Day 18: elemental magic

I’m not currently using elements in my practice very much but they are important to me. I feel drawn to each one in their own way and think it is important to have balance between them.


I have each element represented on my altar, each in a way that incorporates one of the others.

Day 19: Sacred Space/Circle Casting

I’ve only casted a circle twice, I don’t personally feel as though I need it. I have other ways of shielding myself during ritual/spell work.

I do have a little sacred space though! My desk has a raised section that has become my altar. the space on the floor in that corner of my bedroom is where I do my meditations and rune readings.

Day 20: Ethics

This is a deep and broad topic for sure, I’ll probably give it it’s own post one day!

The thing I always think of when it comes to ethics in magic is whether or not I think it is okay to curse and/or hex people. I honestly haven’t decided yet and I’m okay with that for now.

Here are some things I do know about my magical “ethics”

  • Everyone has the right to form their own practice, there is no one right way
  • Don’t mess with free will
  • Don’t cause harm without good reason, if at all

Day 21: Symbols

I am drawn to pentacles, like many other witchy folk. I admire their representation of each element equally. Plus I honestly just like stars so it’s double awesome for me!

There aren’t many other symbols I directly connect with other than the runes. I haven’t yet used the runes for anything other than divination but do plan on creating amulets, talismans, and using them in sigils.

Reflections

As you can see, I didn’t make it through all 30 days of the challenge. I was frustrated at first but I just got overwhelmed by the end of the month. And I’m not gonna lie, I also started half-assing things there towards the end.

Life happens. I’m working on not beating myself up over little things like not completing a challenge.

With that being said, I did learn some new things! I enjoyed having something to explore every day and exploring what sticks for me and what doesn’t.

I was originally planning to do a challenge of sorts every month. That’s just not a realistic goal for me. I’m sure I’ll do more eventually, but they can be a lot of work!

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