An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


A Short Run – Monday, September 25, 2006

Filed under: Cass' training blog - martial arts, weights, running — feyMorgaina @ 04:25


Yay! I finally got out for some fresh air and a run. It was a short run though. I ended up doing so much that I didn’t have time for a longer run before I met up with Nathan. In any case, I did a half mile run at a decent pace – 4 minutes 25 seconds. I hope to get some more exercise this week. I need it. I tend to get sick when I don’t exercise.

Brigid’s Flame

My First Ritual as Summoner

Filed under: Paganism and Spirituality — feyMorgaina @ 04:16


This past Sunday was my first ritual as Summoner. It was an interesting night. Since it was a Sabbat night (Harvestide), the temple ended up quite packed. It was hard for me to keep an eye on everything going on inside the circle with a packed house and also considering my height (5’3″). Overall though, I felt I did a good job. I can get better at it, I know that already. It being my first night as Summoner, I was a tad nervous. Over time, I will just get comfortable and used to being in public so much that it should be almost second nature. I was always a little shy in front of large groups, but never quite as shy in front of people I’m comfortable with. Such is the reason I decided to do this. I wanted to get used to being in front of a large group of people whose attention would be focused on me. (In taekwondo, it occurs to me the students are more concerned with making a mistake and their own training instead of how I’m teaching them. Perhaps that is why it is easier being in front of the taekwondo students.)

The ritual was an interesting ritual. Being Summoner is definitely different than being a participant. You are denied the emotional connection to divinity on one level, but are still connected on another. I did feel more grounded. This also allowed me to think about the ritual on a more practical level, and I also got to watch other people’s reactions to the ritual experience.

Since it was a feast night, it was a long night. People tend to linger for a while. Since it is my duty to keep an eye on the Priestess and ensure her safetey, I stayed until she had left. Her husband was Priest for the ritual, so he did much looking out for her, which definitely helped.

Overall, I think people are receptive to having a woman act as Summoner, a role traditionally given to a man of the community. I think my experience as a martial artist has helped me in this. I’m not unfamiliar with being in an authority position since I have experience teaching taekwondo. In my experience, if you are confident in what you are doing, people sense that and will be more confident in you in response.

After the ritual, I was asked by some of my acquaintances and friends how I liked being Summoner so far. So far, it’s good. I like it. It is something I always wanted to do for the community. It’s something that I think suits me naturally – I’ve always had more yang energy in the sense of being active instead of yin which is associated with being passive.

I was pretty tired when I got home that night. I didn’t eat much all day because I was a little sick last week. In fact, I’m still a little sick, but I’m getting over it. There has been much excitement this past week with all the new things happening and the changes occuring, but it’s dying down a bit. Hopefully, in the next few weeks I’ll feel a little more settled.

Brigid’s Flame

My First Tai Chi Class


I have always been interested in tai chi, and Nathan and I have been discussing taking a martial art together. This past Saturday, we took the opportunity to try out a tai chi class.

The tai chi style we ended up trying out on Saturday is Wu style. There were a few schools we found searching online, but this one seemed to be a good one that was easy for us to get to. There was a good one in the suburbs, but since neither of us drives, we were looking for a school downtown or within easy access to frequent public transit. In any case, the school we went to is the Toronto branch of the International Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Federation. The academy is run by Eddie Wu, the descendent of the person who created Wu style tai chi. All things considered, we were hopeful the school would be top notch.

The class on Saturday was from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. We arrived a bit early so as to be able to talk to whoever was in charge there. Then we changed into some training clothes. I brought my black pants from my gumdo uniform and a black T-shirt. Then, one of the instructors there took us aside and gave us some basic exercises teaching us correct posture and stances for tai chi. These exercises were fairly simple. However, for me, relaxation exercises that involve movement often involve me thinking about them too much and they aren’t quite as relaxing at first! I expect after a while once they are routine, they will be automatic and much more relaxing for me. In any case, since both Nathan and I have quite a few years of experience in martial arts, the instructor put us with some other beginners (they were only a few weeks ahead of us, but hadn’t taken martial arts before) and went through the first little bit of the basic tai chi pattern for the Wu style. This was the fun part for me because I always loved doing my taekwondo patterns.

Once we started the pattern, the stances felt more natural than in just the basic exercise drills. Because the stances emphasis movement and changing energy, it was easier to understand how to do the stances while doing the pattern rather than just standing still. We got to do quite a bit of the pattern, but it’s still pretty far from the complete pattern. The problem, of course, is that we don’t remember the schematics of the pattern yet, so it is hard to follow along because you have to keep watching the instructor.

In any case, it was interesting to try out. I can’t wait to learn the whole pattern and just work on refining it, but I’m going to take my time. I’m not planning on switching martial arts. Rather I decided to take tai chi as a complement to my taekwondo training. Since I switched do jangs over a year ago, I’ve been worried about the lack of training in hand techniques and stances at my new do jang. When I do end up taking a patterns class in taekwondo, I end up teaching it and don’t get the practice I would like. In any case, working on the tai chi patterns should help me maintain the precision I had when I used to do stance work more. I have to say at this point that I love the taekwondo do jang I train at, the Master treats everyone like family and is quite sincere, but he has a slightly different training style than what I’m used to when I was a colour belt.

I found the tai chi class to be challenging in a different way than taekwondo. It’s more meditative which is what I wanted. The interesting thing is that I felt a little energized after taking the class. I probably could have gone for some cardio afterwards. (However, I didn’t sleep too well the night before and was a little sick so in this case the tai chi class was good enough.) The tai chi class felt like a good warm up for me. Like all martial arts, tai chi utilizes the whole body – you will feel it.

The last twenty minutes of the class was set aside to run through the whole pattern as a entire class. It was challenging to try to keep up and try to do a bit more of the pattern just by following along. I think I got nearly halfway through before it got too complicated for me to intuit the next moves. (Since it is a pattern you can intuit some parts of it because some parts repeat but with slight modifications.) So, I stepped out and joined Nathan on the side to watch the rest of it. I have to say that even though tai chi emphasizes slow movements (referred to as isometric exercise), when you’re doing the pattern it goes by faster than watching it. I think once I learn the whole pattern (which consists of 108 forms), I will try doing the pattern slower and faster to get a different feel for it each time. My guess is if you do the techniques faster, you can definitely see the martial arts application of tai chi.

After the class, we spoke with the instructors there some more. I had some questions about some of their intermediate and advanced classes. They suggested that since Nathan and I both have martial arts experience, we could come to the martial class whenever. However, I don’t do much grappling sparring and I get enough of it at taekwondo, so I might pass on that. I was mostly interested in the health, push hands, and application classes. The health classes include meditation and qi gong among other things. Obviously, the focus is on using tai chi for health reasons. The push hands class will be interesting to try later. Those who study kung fu can compare this to “sticky hands”. Push hands works with energy concepts that need to be developed from working on the basic pattern and it is done with a partner. This will be interesting for Nathan and I to do together sometime. The application classes include things such as sword and sabre forms as well as rolls and break falls.

The two instructors at the school both have over twenty years of practicing tai chi. I have to say they both know what they are doing and they seem to be quite aware of other martial arts. They mentioned that another instructor there has a taekwondo background, so it will be interesting for me to meet him at some point. Eddie Wu, the head of the Toronto academy, is currently in Hong Kong. We were told he would be back in October. Hopefully, we will meet him then.

Overall, the experience has been interesting. The instructors and people there seemed nice. The energy there is quite meditative and relaxed which provides a good learning experience. Nathan and I plan to go back. Nathan is actually going to sign up. I, on the other hand, have commitments to taekwondo still. I hope that in the next five years I will make it to fourth dan (Master) and will then be able to teach taekwondo. For me, it makes more sense to go to the tai chi classes when I can instead of signing up on a package deal. The rates are $65 per month. One class is $15. I don’t expect to be able to attend five times in a month on top of running, weight training, taekwondo, my Wiccan studies, and making some time to work on reiki. All of this is part of my spiritual practice; however, some things take priority at different times. To avoid burn out, I’m not afraid to take my time with some things.

Another interesting tidbit… part of the basic posture for practicing tai chi includes placing the tongue on the top ridge of the mouth while breathing through the nose and keeping a straight alignment along the whole spine. This is also a posture that is used in Japanese reiki exercises where breathing is done all the way down to the tanden (navel) past the diaphragm. In tai chi as with reiki, this posture allows easy flow of energy (chi or ki) through the body.

Brigid’s Flame

Changes and renewal

Filed under: Paganism and Spirituality — feyMorgaina @ 02:29


The past year has been an year of personal growth for me by turning inward. During the past year, there were many things I had to work through, and I’m glad to say that I seem to have gotten through this period without any emotional scars. In fact, it has been a healing cycle for me. At the same time, I have learned a few things and some interesting lessons. These lessons have been necessary for the next stage of my spiritual path, and for that I thank the deities who watch over me. (Coincidentally, for those who know a bit about astrology, Saturn made a conjunction to my natal Sun this year. This translated to dealing with a lot of restrictions and boundaries, but it turns out this was good for me.)

A new cycle has started for me as mentioned in a previous post. So far it has been interesting. It seems the adjustment period right now will be the hardest – opportunities still like ahead of me, all I need to do is step through. It is funny that what you ask for sometimes is the hardest thing to do.

This cycle is also another one of renewal. Last year, I ended up taking time off from my Wiccan group so that I can focus on some other aspects of my development. Though I have not completed quite everything I wanted to, I have been able to return to the group and continue where I left off. In this, I feel that I am moving forward instead of just turning my wheels.

For this website and this blog, this means that I will be able to write about some other things that I have been wanting to write about in addition to what I have been writing the past year. I hope that readers will find this an interesting addition to this blog.

Thus, I shall end this blog by writing a bit about my group ritual this week. It was an interesting ritual based around the theme of changes at this time. Being a small Wiccan group, we each spoke about some of the changes that were happening in our lives lately. Then, since it was Harvestide (our autumn equinox Sabbat), we celebrated with a little feast and chatting. We did something a little different by calling upon our higher selves to join in the ritual and celebration. The ritual energy was nice and quiet, somewhat meditative which seems to suit this time of year. Overall, nice, relaxed. I felt quite grounded afterwards. 🙂 Though I wonder if I felt grounded because I was the earth element for the ritual. I made up a purification based upon the Chinese character for mountain. It had a nice earth feel. After I got home, I got the sense that I needed to write some additional verses to the purification that could be used as well by expanding the earth part and writing parts for air, fire, and water. I will need to set aside some time to reflect on this.

Blessings and Happy Autumn Equinox,
Brigid’s Flame