Studying

I love to learn things. Learning has always been something I enjoyed, though only under certain circumstances. Most of the “learning” we were required to do in school didn’t appeal to me, because it seemed arbitrary and I was only learning those things because someone else told me to. But learning things on my own, following my own interests and intuition, always appealed.

Partly for my own benefit and partly because I want to build and grow the skills and knowledge I use in RiverEvolutions, I’m currently starting a time of learning and growth in various areas. Some of my blog posts over the coming weeks and months will be about what I’m learning.

I’m enrolled in the Ph.D. program through the University of Metaphysical Sciences. This course is giving me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge base, as well as to narrow in on skills I can use as a healer, channel, and coach. It’s going to take time; regardless of what degrees one already has, UMS requires you to start with their Bachelor’s program and work up. But I’m excited about gaining this knowledge.

On my own, I’m studying Tarot and oracle cards, because I intend to offer readings of both types through RiverEvolutions over the next few months. But obviously if I’m going to do readings, I need to build my knowledge and skills! I’ve found a number of books and video resources, and if you know of any, I would love to hear about them.

I’m also reading more about trauma and its effects. I know many effects that trauma can have; I’ve lived with them. However, I want to have a more objective understanding of trauma, particularly as it relates to mindfulness practices and meditation. I’ve found for myself that some types of meditation actually have adverse effects; rather than feeling still and calm, I feel angry and revved up, and it can take a full day for me to settle again. At first when this happened, I thought I was doing something wrong, but then I saw friends of mine who also have lived through abuse or trauma say they had similar experiences when attempting to meditate. I’m setting out to study why that happens and find or create mindfulness practices that take those effects into account.

I’m building my knowledge base about Witchcraft. I am a Witch (not a Wiccan, though), but that doesn’t mean I know a lot. Magic and Witchcraft are very, very broad topics with a lot to learn and read, and I’m poking around finding things that call to me to learn more about. 

And I’m taking a course to attain the next level in Chios Energy Healing! I’m so excited about this one, because it will enable me to offer even more effective and beneficial energy healing services to my client, and because I’m learning directly from the developer of Chios, Stephen Barrett. Stay tuned for more about this, because you’d better believe I’ll be celebrating when I attain this degree. This is especially relevant now, as I gear up to resume offering Chios Energy Healing sessions beginning November 2.

Those aren’t all the things I’ll be learning and studying over the coming months. I’m kind of excited about this, because as I said, I love learning new things and refreshing or building on my knowledge of things I’ve learned previously. In some blogs, I’ll share things I’m learning.

Growing Into a Name

Four years ago, I had what I describe as a dedication ritual. It wasn’t intentional or planned on my part. My partner took me to a place that is very energetically entwined with the elements and with magic in general, and while there, beings spoke to me and guided me through a rebirth of sorts. I consider this the beginning of my study and following the path of witchcraft.

During this process, the beings told me that my purpose is to be a healer, speaker, and teacher, which is something I’ve been trying to live up to ever since. At the end of the ritual, they gave me a new name: River Lightbearer. I was told I could use “River” as part of my name and the name of my business, but that I would have to earn the right to use “Lightbearer” through my growth, healing, and study.

I worked on my own healing as well as on trying to build my practice. It’s definitely been a journey, with plenty of forward-and-backward momentum. I’ve learned a lot, and have faced things about myself that were definitely not easy to face. I’ve gone back and forth with my business as well, and have yet to completely become what I was told I would become. Then again, things take time, and one of the lessons I’ve been trying to learn is patience.

Several months ago, I was told I had earned the right to use the second half of this spiritual name I was given. I’ve been a little shy and reluctant about doing so, because I had to battle imposter syndrome and the fear people would see me as being too proud or arrogant or something. But the time finally feels right to take that step.

When they gave me the name, I wondered why “River.” The symbolism made sense, but most people I knew who’d been given spiritual names had ones that were at least somewhat gendered. Then again, the first spiritual name I was given, which came from my guide Shiva, is Ganatram, also not recognizably female.

Last year when I came to the recognition that I don’t identify as female, but instead as agender (gender-neutral), the names made sense. I had neutral-sounding names because I am neutral.

Now I’m moving toward using River more in my personal life as well as my business life. It isn’t a change I’m making lightly, nor one I’m making rapidly, but it is something that feels right. I’m definitely using the full name, River Lightbearer, as the owner of RiverEvolutions and in any writing I do that relates to my business and message; I don’t anticipate using it in my day-to-day life, but then, I didn’t anticipate this change either. Anything is possible.

I will still answer to Kim Ramsey-Winkler. I know my own memory is like a sieve sometimes, so it makes sense to continue using the name I’ve been used to for years. But I’m also moving toward being River, or River Lightbearer, and that feels good for me.

Rites of Spring

I’m late with this post because it took me a bit longer than anticipated to get back into the swing of things after returning from the Rites of Spring retreat in western Massachusetts. I was originally planning to post this on Wednesday, but time really got away from me.

The event was awesome, though. Last year when I attended, I felt left out and disconnected right up until the closing ceremony, when all of a sudden–and too late–everything started to click into place. I had a hard time with that, because I wanted to enjoy it and make new friends, and I felt like I hadn’t.

I had, of course. Maybe not the way I’d wanted, but I did make friends from it, and those friends were there to welcome me when I arrived this year. The moment I walked through the gate, I felt like I was home. When I arrived at the dining hall for my shift checking meal bracelets, a job I had last year as well (everyone is given a color-coded bracelet indicating what meals, if any, they’re supposed to have in the dining hall), I felt as if I’d never left.

It was rainy and cold a lot of the time I was there. That made it considerably less pleasant, and it had a negative effect on my mood some of the time. Especially since the retreat is held at a summer camp, so most of the cabins don’t have heat, and neither do some of the shower houses and bathroom outbuildings. But for two days the sun was out and the temperature was up, and that was nice.

I did a Chios Level 1 workshop which had more attendees than I’d anticipated, and most of them seemed to get a lot out of the workshop. I’m looking forward to hearing more from them, and to doing another Level 1 workshop next year.

I came home tired, but happy and rested. I felt refreshed and recharged, and I’m definitely glad I went.

FEAR!

For the past month, I’ve been going through a lot of changes. There are so many things about me that aren’t horrible, but aren’t helpful. Things I would love to change, because changing them would give me a better life.

The biggest one of those is fear. I’m afraid of almost everything. Today I’m leaving for the Rites of Spring Pagan festival in western Massachusetts, and I’m afraid I won’t get to know anyone there. I’m afraid I’ll feel silly like I did last year. I’m afraid my partner, who is also going, will ignore me the entire time.

Irrational fears. Though the fear of feeling silly isn’t so irrational. I actually did feel that way last year, but that was also tied to fear. I was afraid other people would think I was silly or stupid, so I just didn’t do anything. I didn’t participate in the rituals or the singing (I didn’t even know the songs, though everyone else there seemed to), and I didn’t really talk to many people. Which was unfortunate, because they’re nice people and would have accepted me if I’d been willing to be accepted.

I’m learning to let go of those fears a little more every day. Fear keeps you from truly living. You just exist day to day, doing the things you know are safe and won’t cause problems, and you don’t risk anything. But not risking means not trying, and not trying means you’re stuck where you are. Not necessarily the way someone wants to live, but sometimes fear seems stronger than you, and you don’t know how to fight.

I’m learning to fight. And I’m going to Rites of Spring despite the fear, and keeping an open mind (unlike last year, I admit) that it will be better this year, and that I won’t be as afraid.

Which reminds me… since I’ll be at Rites of Spring, there won’t be a blog post on Saturday. Next Wednesday, hopefully I’ll be able to tell you how Rites was!

What Are You Creating?

What are you creating in your life?

For some people, hearing they create their own lives, or they create things in their lives, is problematic. They hear it as victim-blaming if they’ve had traumatic experiences, or they just don’t believe it’s true, because magic isn’t a thing.

(Magic *is* a thing, but that’s a different subject for a different time.)

Creating your life, or aspects of your life, doesn’t mean you’re at fault when things go wrong. If we don’t know our own creative power, we don’t have control over what happens. We have to learn that we can have that control, and then how to use it.

When we think hard about something, really want—or don’t want—it, often it comes into our lives. We’re putting so much time and thought into it, and therefore we’re putting a ton of energy into it. Energy calls to energy, and the energy we put out draws whatever it is we’re devoting energy to.

If we understand that, we can begin to consciously and intentionally create what’s in our lives. If we’re constantly stressed about money and trying to figure out how to get it, and thinking about how we don’t have it, we’re unconsciously creating not having it. We aren’t putting energy into having money; we’re putting energy into the lack of it. But if we can shift that thinking into fully believing, and putting our total energy into, the idea that we have the money we want and need, we will have that money.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to drop into our laps, of course. When we consciously create something in our lives, it doesn’t appear out of thin air. At least not usually. What does appear is opportunity, and we need to stay open to the opportunities that arise to bring us what we’re creating.

So what are you creating in your life? And what do you want to create? Think about how you can do that.

Relearning What the Child Knew

When I was a child, I believed in magic. Completely and wholeheartedly. I heard voices when no one was around. I had conversations with the wind and with trees. I felt things changing. Sometimes, if I tried hard enough, I felt like I caused change. And I had “imaginary” friends who knew a lot more than I did.

Of course, growing up with very literal, science-minded parents, I was taught that those things weren’t real. I was also, unfortunately, taught not to say anything about those things to others, or I might get locked up. I didn’t have resources then to find out more about witchcraft, or energy healing, or anything along those lines. Though to give my father credit, a few times he surprised me with books about psychic phenomena and other metaphysical topics. But none of those had anything that rang true for me.

I grew up. I forgot a lot of what I knew and did as a child. My imaginary friends never went away, which I couldn’t understand, but since I didn’t have many friends or people to talk to, I was kind of glad they were there.

When I was about 35, I became friends with someone who taught me about channeling and guides—and I realized my imaginary friends might not be so imaginary after all. He taught me about energy healing, and I remembered the times when I was injured and held my hand over the cut, and felt heat and then the pain went away.

He and I weren’t friends long, but he made a pretty big impact on my life.

About a year and a half ago, I became friends with someone who taught me about witchcraft—and I realized I wasn’t the only one who talked to trees. That the voices I heard as a child might not have been my imagination either.

I’ve realized over the past decade or so that all the things I thought made me weird, and my parents thought meant I was crazy, weren’t exclusive to me. Other people believe the same things. I’ve learned things as an adult that I knew instinctively as a child, and I’ve felt like I was coming back home.

I tried to raise my own children with open-mindedness toward things like magic, energy, and guides. Whether or not they talk to guides or trees or anything like that, I wanted them to know they weren’t the only ones, and there wasn’t anything wrong with them for it. I hope I did okay with that.