Spirits of the Home: Brownies

Since I discovered that Brownies are Spirits of the Home, I decided to mediate on how to meet one. At first, I tried the usual forms of meditation. However outside of being refreshed, I could not envision to how contact any. Therefore, I decide to mull over what to do next.

As strange as it may seem, I felt a presence while I was vacuuming the living room rug. Not sure of what I was experiencing, I continued with my cleaning chores. As I was wiping out my kitchen sink, I heard a deep voice coming from behind me. “Do not forget to shine the faucets while you are at it.” Startled, I dropped my dishtowel. Whoever the voice belonged to was not of this earth.

While wiping down my stove, I glanced out the corner of one eye. Careful not to look directly, I saw a squat brown figure in brown rags. As I kept my focus on scouring the stove burners, I pondered what I saw. I believe that I encountered a Brownie in my home. (Being part Scottish, I was not surprised about having one in my home.)

I continued cleaning as if there was nothing out of the ordinary happening in my kitchen. I stuck my head into the microwave oven to wipe down the inside. The deep voice then said “I prefer listening to Frank Sinatra.” Upon hearing that, I nearly banged my head on the roof of the microwave. This whole exchange was entirely unexpected. I did have enough presence of mind, not to speak to the Brownie, who was standing in the middle of my galley kitchen. I also did not turn my head to look directly at him.

When I do my chores, I often enter a trance. The chores have a rhythm and focus to them that invites meditation. Since I have a set routine, I often do housework on “automatic pilot.” I remembered that Brownies expect tidiness and cleanliness. Therefore contacting one while doing the vacuuming then did seem natural.

Later, I reviewed what I had learned about Brownies. They have rules that the people living the house need to follow. Usually, a meeting of the minds between both parties has to happen. I could agree to keeping a neat home since they dislike messes. Another thing that I could do was to make food offerings in odd places.

Later I left some bread heels near the furnace closet. When I went to wash the floor, the food was gone. Then I put some cereal by the stove. That disappeared as well.

As for the Brownie’s preference for Frank Sinatra, I was flummoxed. There was nothing in the lore about what music Brownies liked. Somehow, I expected that Celtic music was what they preferred. A Brownie asking for the songs of Frank Sinatra was the farthest from my mind.

Since Sinatra was what the Brownie asked for, Sinatra, it would be. I did not want a Good Brownie go bad, and turn into a Boggart. Since I did not know which of Sinatra’s songs, the Brownie liked, I would play a variety of them.

Some nights later, when I was dozing off in bed, I heard a deep bass voice singing. The Brownie was crooning “Young at Heart,” “When the Wind was Green,” and “New York, New York.” The first two made sense since they concerned things that interest the Fae. However, the last song puzzled me. Perhaps the Brownie had hidden ambitions for Broadway. I was reminded that Brownies and other Fae do not conform to human notions about them.

Works Used:
Daimler, Morgan, “Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folks.” Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2017.
…,” A New Dictionary of Fairies: A 21st Century Exploration of Celtic and Related Western European Fairies.” Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2020.
…, “Pagan Portals: Fairy Witchcraft.” Moon Books: Winchester (UK). 2014.
Lecouteux, Claude, “The Tradition of Household Spirits.” (Translated by Jon Graham). Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2013.
…., “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies.” (Translated by Clare Frock). Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2003.
McCoy, Edain, “A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 1994.
Moorey, Teresa, “The Fairy Bible.” Sterling: New York. 2008
Sanchez, Tara, “Urban Faery Magick.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2021

Dreaming with Mugwort and The Big Cicada

I chose mugwort since the herb gives prophetic dreams. Moreover, mugwort is also a sacred herb of the Anglo-Saxons. According to the “Nine Herbs Charm,” mugwort, the oldest of herbs, has power against the “loathsome foe roving through the land.” (Note 1.) As a Roman Pagan, I use it to repel bad spirits (Lemurs and Larvae).

I decided to make a dream pillow out of mugwort and blue felt. To invest my own energy into it, I hand-sewed the pillow. Then I put it under my pillow and recorded my dreams. At first the dreams came fast and furious – several blips at a time. They rumbled and tumbled all over themselves. Finally, the dreams slowed down allowing me to identify three categories.

During the time that I was dreaming with mugwort, I experienced terrible allergies from tree pollen. Then the Periodical Cicadas (Brood X) emerged, complete with their weirdness. I believed that these two events impacted my dreaming, as well. They combined with the mugwort to have me experience extremely odd dreams.

To begin with, a Periodical Cicada invited me to ride on his back. Big Cicada was a black-green handsome male with big red eyes. I believed that the mugwort enhanced my connection with the Spirit of the Periodical Cicadas. Like me with my brain injury, they live outside of time. Their Spirit sent Big Cicada to aid me in navigating the dreamscape.

First, Big Cicada took me to experience some of my past lives. In each dream, I inhabited the body of the person of my past life. One was as a teenaged girl in Ancient Rome. I did not want to marry but Father chose that I would wed a stone mason. Another past life was as an English soldier in the Great War. I was trying to survive in the trenches at the Western Front.

Then, Big Cicada took Brainie along with us. (In real life, I have a stuffed brain toy, the size of a pillow. “Brainie” has large goofy eyes and smile.) On our brain adventures, we revisited old traumas such as the wall falling on me. Whenever something threatened me, Brainie would squish them. There was “a whole lot of squishing going on” as Brainie took care of each trauma. After the series of these dreams, I was spent but healed.

Finally, after the New Moon, I had a series of apocalyptical dreams. Each one was more disturbing than the last one. The only relief for me was visiting the Abode of the Squirrel Gods. (These Beings were both the Gods of squirrels and Gods who were squirrels.) The Squirrel Gods gave me a chant of protection to recite when I went to sleep. The chant saved my sanity as I kept seeing the world being destroyed in various ways.

In one dream about the end of the world, Africa went completely underwater. I did save a Two-Tusker, a whale being with two tusks. I was told by Big Cicada, the Two-Tuskers would create the coming New World. However, it was still disturbing to watch each continent be flooded.

My conclusion is that the mugwort pillow had strange effects on me. First, my body and the herb had to mesh before I could dream properly. As I reported, the initial dreams were fast blips. As the herb strengthened my psychic abilities. I would go into Deep Time. However, the New Moon triggered frightening dreams of the far future. In contrast, the chant from the Squirrel Gods was life affirming. However, I am not sure if I will dream with mugwort again.

Works Cited.
Note 1: From the Nine Herbs Charm:
“Remember, Mugwort, what you made known,
What you arranged at the Great proclamation.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,
you have power against three and against thirty,
you have power against poison and against contagion,
you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.”
Quoted in Dawn Black’s Witchipedia,
https://witchipedia.com/book-of-shadows/herblore/nine-herbs-charm/

Works Used:
Burdett, Anne and Chelsea Granger, “Dirt Gems Guide Book.” Superior Pod: Vestal (NY), 2020.
Cantin, Candis and Michael Tierra, “The Spirit of Herbs: A Guide to the Herbal Tarot.” U.S. Games System: Stamford (CT). 1993.
Kaldera, Raven, “The Nine Sacred Herbs,” Web. 2019. https://www.northernshamanism.org/the-nine-sacred-herbs.html.
Sowton, Christopher, “Dreamworking.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2017.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.” New Page Books: Franklin Lakes (NJ). 2004.

Lucid Dreaming, Brain Injury, and Me

Because of my brain injury, I was leery of lucid dreaming. The idea of knowing that I am in a dream while dreaming was beyond my normal understanding. My problem with lucid dreaming was that while awake, I am prone to going into fugue states. Reality can be a problem for me to parse out, and I believed that lucid dreams would confuse me more.

After researching lucid dreaming, I discovered that I do have them. I have what I call “brain dreams.” In these dreams, I am in a big room, which is a library with four beds. There I would meet my three other selves, and we would decide which of the beds to sit on. After taking a book off one of the shelves, each one of us would take turns reading it to the others. Since my traumatic brain injury, I have four selves, each of which represents one of the lobes of the brain. (Note 1.) In the dream, the selves decide which lobe needs healing at that time. They direct the reading to excite the lobe into working. (Note 2)

Another set of dreams that I would have frequently involved flying about in a black void. This void is a place of stillness and contemplation. Clare Johnson in “The Art of Lucid Dreaming” describes this black space, “The Lucid Void,” which she defines as the gap between dreams. Johnson says that the Void is the birthplace of dreams.

For me, the simplest way to enter the Void is by deciding to go. I would affirm that I wanted to go there, and off I go. Eventually, I mapped a part of the Void by bouncing from each pinprick of light. I discovered I was dancing on Indra’s Net (the Jewel Net of Indra). (Note 3) I experienced the Net as a vast network of jewels at each node of interlocking threads. Each jewel is reflected in all of the other jewels forming cosmic reality. For me, I feel immense joy simply being there.

Another place that I go in my lucid dreams is the Tree of Life. I have a magic acorn that the Squirrels gave me (in another dream). When I want to go the Tree, I would hold the acorn and say “Squirrel.” The Tree, itself, glows and shimmers in gold and silver. A lot of little animals live in and around the Tree. When I arrive, the squirrels would greet me and off we go.

One thing that I noticed is that my lucid dreams follow the phases of the Moon. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart in “The Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard” explains why. The Moon, he says is the Mistress of Dreams. Because of this, the best time to have lucid dreams is the Waxing Gibbous Moon. I have found this to be true.

Meanwhile, Andrew Holecek in “The Lucid Dreaming Workbook” stresses sleep hygiene for successful lucid dreaming. He says that a calm transition from day to night is necessary. (A part of this is paying attention to the body’s circadian rhythms.) For lucid dreaming to occur, a bridge between wakefulness and sleep needs to be built. Holecek suggests saying slowly, “I am dreaming, I am dreaming…..” I tell myself as I drift off is “I enjoy lucid dreams.”

Holecek cautions about being conflicted about lucid dreaming. For example, he says ignore the inner voice that says it is a waste of time. To combat this voice, I tell myself it is for the brain. To be successful at lucid dreaming, note any self-talk of “I just can’t do it.” I find this to be true. If I have any doubts about being able to dream lucidly, I cannot do it.

Notes:
Note 1. The frontal lobe is where the executive functions occur. The parietal lobe integrates sensory information. The temporal lobe processes the sensory information and memory. The occipital lobe is for visual processing. I have damage on all of the lobes.

Note 2. Lucid dreaming can be regarded as a form of neuroplasticity. The Max Planck Institute of Human Development found evidence that the brains of lucid dreamers have more grey matter. I interpret this to mean that lucid dreaming is healthy for a recovering brain. In my dream, the selves reading to each other is either rewiring or laying down new neural circuitry.

Note 3. From Mahayana Buddhism. “Indra’s Jewel” is a metaphor for “the interbeing of all things.”

Works Used:
Holecek, Andrew, “The Lucid Dreaming Workbook.” New Harbinger Publications: Oakland (CA). 2020.
Johnson, Clare, “The Art of Lucid Dreaming.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2020.
… “The Art of Transforming Nightmares.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2021.
Larsen, Stephen and Tom Verner, “The Transformational Power of Dreaming.” Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2017.
Sowton, Christopher, “Dreamworking.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2017.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.” New Page Books: Franklin Lakes (NJ). 2004.

Humpty Dumpty and Me

Like Humpty Dumpty, I had a great fall, and could not be put back together. Unlike Humpty Dumpty, I did not have a great fall from a wall. Instead, the wall had a great fall on me. I was minding my own business when the wall collapsed on me. I woke up in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), in which all four lobes of my brain were damaged. (Note 1) Like Humpty Dumpty, I was in pieces. Unlike Humpty Dumpty, I had a closed-brain injury.

Like Humpty Dumpty, trauma enveloped me. I had to cope with the randomness of what had happened. There was absolutely nothing that I could have done to prevent it. Now, how do I navigate in a world full of walls? (Note 2) Solving problems is what people with TBIs are forced to do. As for me, I have an emotional support animal. My stuffed ladybug, Peasey, goes with me everywhere. Bright red with black spots, she attracts attention, but neither of us cares. We are brave together as we go shopping and in and out of tall buildings. When the world becomes too much for me, Peasey is there. All I have to do is put my face into her soft plush to shut out the stimulation around me.

People who have TBIs have two lives – the one before and the one after. We mark our lives in years post-TBI. (I am 12 years post TBI.) We grieve for who we were and live for who we are now. Life post-TBI is a kaleidoscope that spins and weaves the threads of our many lives into a new tapestry.

Brains do heal, and become rivers with eddies, islands, rapids, and calm pools. I have memories that flow by and disappear, while other memories are now a part of the river banks. Some are islands that remain. During the winter, the river is frozen but it thaws in the spring. Through all of it, the essence of who I am still remains.

Having a TBI is like being a sailor on the seas of fate. I am in my small sailboat, working with the winds and tides to go where I need to. Sometimes, I can sail directly there, while at other times, I have to tack to the winds. I get there eventually but in a roundabout way. Because of the variable winds, there is no returning to what was before. Living totally in the now, I take my boat to horizons yet to be explored.

Notes:
Note 1. The frontal lobe is where the executive functions occur. The parietal lobe integrates sensory information. The temporal lobe processes the sensory information and memory. The occipital lobe is for visual processing.

Note 2. I did sue the company whose wall fell on me, and won.

Dreams: Preventing Nightmares

If a person simply does not want to have nightmares, I would suggest a variety of methods for preventing them, since nightmares come in different ways. First, I would tell them, my bedtime routine for having good dreams. I say prayers to the Gods of Sleep and to the Gods of the Day and Night. Then I meditate with my prayer beads. After spraying myself with lavender (Note 1.), I fluff up my pillow and go to sleep. (Note 2.)

I learned that blackthorn can be put in a bag and placed by my bed for protection. I slept for months with blackthorn on my night stand and only once did I have a dream out of the ordinary. A friend of mine had died and came to say goodbye. (I had not learned of her death until later.)

One thing that I happened upon was dream pouches. The Heaven And Earth Company, which specializes in crystals, featured different pouches for sweet dreams or well-being. Inspired, I made my own with Rose Quartz, a calming stone of divine love. Another crystal I used was Aqua Lemuria from Indonesia. Besides being a good balancer of auras, Aqua Lemuria puts forth unconditional love that surrounds me. Both fill me with love as I sleep.

Clare Johnson (Phd) in “The Art of Transforming Nightmares,” suggests doing something similar to what the Japanese do. (Note 3.) She counsels inviting a helper animal into your nightmare. Ask the animal to stop the fearful thing from occurring. For me, I have found that simply having the iguana in the bed prevents many nightmares.

Notes
Note 1. A person could use patchouli as well.

Note 2. Remember to stop watching the news at least two hours before bedtime. Be selective in media consumption, in general.

Note 3. According to the Japanese, the Baku was created by the Gods from the leftover pieces used to create animals. (A Baku looks like a cross between an elephant and a tapir.) A person experiencing a nightmare, would say three times, “Baku-san, come eat my dream.” A person has to be careful since a very hungry Baku will devour their hopes as well.

Works Used:
Bynum, Edward, “The Dreamlife of Families: The Psychospiritual Connection.” Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2017.
Chamberlain, Basil, “Japanese Things.” Charles Tuttle: Tokyo. 1971.
Ellison, Robert, “Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids.” ADF Publishing: Tucson (AZ). 2007.
Heaven and Earth LLC. Metaphysical Minerals and Jewelry. Web. 2021. https://heavenandearthjewelry.com/index.aspx, .
Johnson, Clare, “The Art of Lucid Dreaming.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2020.
… “The Art of Transforming Nightmares.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2021.
Larsen, Stephen and Tom Verner, “The Transformational Power of Dreaming.” Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2017.
Ridall, Kathryn, “Dreaming at the Gates.” DreamGate: Ventura (CA). 2019.
Sowton, Christopher, “Dreamworking.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2017.