planning a spiritual calendar using non-linear time, soft deadlines and small bites

so what does recording and journalling and planning have to do with fiber arts and ritual tools? well, a lot actually. there are a lot of benefits to keeping a spiritual calendar as well as personal and project oriented ones. but my brain is wired in a way that makes sticking to those calenders after i’ve made them a bit difficult. 

a binder with colorful tabs wrapped in washi tape.

my brain gets the happy reward juice from writing things down, so i need to break up the big tasks into small ones in order to not feel like an entire year of projects has been completed when i have only just planned them. therefore, in order to actually finish things, i have a three pronged approach. non-linear, soft deadlines and small bites. 

non linear starts with what i call the amorphous cloud. i make a general list of all the ideas i want to touch on during the next 5 years and then break that down into Past, Present and Future bubbles. i used to do the mind mapping technique, but now i just draw boxes and fill a sheet of paper until i need to break out. 

planning a tiny tarot deck for my own use. there is a stack of blank cards, a pen, pencil and brush.  the top card has a test drawing of stones, vines, clouds and bowls with random water color testing.

giving myself the freedom to switch things around as my health, interest and resources wax and wane has helped immeasurably in sticking to my plans then adjusting as needed so that i finish things in a relatively good time. but also, realizing that not everything is going to be fast and efficient is just as important. slow fashion and slow crafting is a deep and integral part of ritual tools. like i said at the beginning of the year, time is an important material in ritual items and some of those tools take months to years to complete and i have to not only be ok with that, but plan for that. and that is where my journals come in.

i use 3 ring binders that i make art out of to keep my planner stuff in. making the binder is the first task and i usually start a few of them at a time when i need new binders. having more than one in progress means that i have choices for different uses, but also i’m thinking to my future needs and creating a base of extra materials to continue when i reach that point. 

if i need 1 binder because my current one is getting full, i’ll decorate 3 and put aside 2 more with the materials to finish them because who knows how easy it will be to find those materials in 5 or 10 years? so that is one project that will take me approximately 1-3 months that will last me for 5-10 years. not too shabby! the trick is to plan that binder decorating project *before* i need them. like, a year or two before i need them. that type of task goes into the “Future” section of my planner. 

a closeup of a leather stitched binder cover in pinks and green with a lady bug crawling across it. she's been visiting my houseplants this week!

the Present section is for immediate project pieces that i have deadlines for. where i put those in my calendar depends on whether they are soft deadlines for myself or hard deadlines for other people. hard deadlines are in Google Calendar and have a small page in the planner and either a large section in my ongoing project binder or it’s own binder/folder depending on the project or tool being created. 

and in true non-linear thinking, the Past section is for UFO’s (unfinished objects), items that are long term in their creation, items that are complete and projects that are still in the brainstorming mode, but far enough along to be more than just an idea. 

there are a lot of ideas that i recycle and reuse over the years. i keep lists of shower thoughts and brainstorming results in a creative compost heap called the Idea Bank. and just like a bank, once or twice a year i’ll go through those ideas and sort them into past/present/future projects to think about adding or improving on in the next year or so.when i withdraw an idea, i try to deposit a few to keep it balanced. i have a surprisingly small amount of ideas in the IB right now because this past year i sorted and consolidated all of my journals as my new year resolution, but what i have left is growing a nice crop of offshoots and making a great seedbed for the next couple decades.

a colored pencil map i drew back in highschool in greens and blues showing islands and a compass rose.

i think the most important part of this system other than the fact that it works for me is taking small bites. each step is it’s own project and i keep track of it and plan for it as if it were a project itself. that gives me a lot of joy in finishing things and being able to make things in batches as well as prep multiple projects without losing steam. i am a sprinter running a marathon, haha. running one mile a day still gets you to 30 in a month and my knees appreciate it. 

this also includes my spiritual calendar. my People and my personality are not bound to the corporate grind. my calendar is centered around the growing seasons of my area because i garden and tend the land i live on as a part of that bio system. when i am out of sync with the seasons, i am anxious and depressed, so to support emotional and mental health and be able to do what my Gods and Allies ask of me, i do my best to track the seasons and create my spiritual calendar of service, festivals and offerings accordingly. 

pen and ink drawing. a closeup of fingers doing stranded knitting and a knitting pattern planner open on a table.

microclimates are interesting in that my seasons can be different than a friend’s who lives a couple towns over. my celebrations are of the first blush of henbit i see greening up in my yard, the first baby rabbit dashing across my driveway, the first thunderstorm of the year where i rinse and bless my skeins of yarn spun during the winter, the first frost sparkling in the grass and the dry spiky brown seed heads of the zinnias i collect in fall.  these are some of the things i look for locally and, add to that the astroweather, and i have a pretty full calendar. 

which brings me to non-linear calendar records. a lot of my spiritual calendar is written after the fact. my calendar at the beginning of the year is pretty sparse! it’s filled with big projects that have been broken down into smaller ones, and the moon signs and a smattering of birthdays, big astroweather things if i remember them, a personal ephemeris of dates of things to watch out for and an unanchored list of things to do each season. and then i fill those things in as they happen.

4 fate dice showing 3 plus sides and one minus on a grid planning out my ritual comic.

there is no point to me of planning things to the minute. that just makes me stressed and doesn’t leave open any room for joy. my life is so simple that as long as i hit the high points each season, i have plenty of room for new experiences and soft deadlines. i prefer to read back over my previous records and then do divination at the appropriate moon phase to plan my month as i go and record how things went after the fact. putting *is* before *should*. 

should is full of so many possibilities that i get swamped with decision fatigue and end up defaulting to nothing. is is what i am holding and doing and experiencing *now*. is is my truth, should is my guilt. and i have no room for guilt in my life. “would have beens” and “could have beens” are fodder for the compost of my idea bank and fun stories to think about when i’m throwing out ideas to add to my binder, but until they become *is*, they are just that, idea fodder. 

a knitted sweater with various green, blue, pink and multicolored stripes that i hand spun and have been working on for the past 5 years.

so february is over and i have finished the small bites of beginning the Now projects for the year and planned out my binder for my garden and given myself a lot of fun ideas to keep me running on creative juice during what is looking like a difficult summer this year. my Google Calendar is a bit more full than i prefer and my UFO’s list is dwindling, so it’s time to add more to my Future list and stay on target as much as i comfortably can, but be compassionate to my future self if she struggles with this globally stressful year and prepare to support my friends, family and community as well. 

plans are made for breaking and records in uncertain times are a lifeline to those who keep them. so in march i’ll be looking forward to taking a walk every day or so while checking in on my perennials friends to see who survived the winter and leaving treats for the neighborhood cats. and maybe finishing my forever surprise jacket so i can wear it? i only have the cuffs and the binding left and that is only 2 small bites! 

divination chat journal – having tea and conversations with my Allies

i’m moved! it took me a couple weeks, but i’m finally moved down into the basement and i’m working on setting up my area workspace as well as settling into my new bedroom. i’m really happy with how things have worked out so far! 

a picture of my room with a huge bright window well, my tv, my writing desk, the end of my bed and a big desk chair

one of the first things i did once i had my furniture set up and my bed made was set up my journal shelf. my room doesn’t feel like home until i’ve got my journals available. 😅 

so in celebration of having my writing and art desk set up again, i’m going to talk about my divination chat journal! since this is my second post this week in order to get back on schedule, it’ll be a bit shorter than usual. here is a technique that i use to communicate with my People. 

i started chatting with my spirit Allies and my People thru keeping a divination journal a few years ago. i had tried keeping a tarot diary where i recorded my daily card pulls and various important readings i did for myself off and on for several years but i never really used that information. like, it was good in the moment and for looking back on a few months later when i did follow ups, but i usually just ended up burning those journals at the end of the year (or tearing out the few pages i used before giving up and then starting over)

a shelf next to my desk with several leather bound journals, dolls that i've made, paperback fiction stacks on the top and a jar of mod podge.

then one day as i was recording a clarification reading, i decided to do things a little more realtime. instead of asking the cards for advice on a situation and then writing a journal entry about what i thought it meant, i asked a specific question and then pulled a card as the answer like i was chatting with a friend. 

it was illuminating and just what i needed at that time. i shuffled the cards once between each question and treated them like a conversation. i wish i had written down that first reading, but it took me a few more months before i started recording these divination chats on scraps of paper and in old notebooks and finally graduated to a big green binder. 

i currently only have one journal that i keep divination chats in. i use multiple modalities for various parts of the conversation and i have gotten to know the cards/runes/dice/bones a lot better because of the casual nature of these readings. 

an open spread showing my method of dividing a page for divination chats with a sample reading.

how it works is generally like this:

i wash my hands, light a tealight and pour a cup of tea. 

then i draw a line down the center of my page and on one side is my part of the conversation and the other side is where i record the answers and the other part of the conversation. i use a question and answer format to get started, but a lot of the time, things will naturally flow into a dialogue. 

“hello! how’s it going? is anyone up for a chat today?”

at first when i started writing things down, everything seemed like gibberish and i was super self conscious. it took me a several tries to figure out what worked, what the ritual surrounding the conversation looked like depending on who i was chatting with, how detailed and urgent my questions were, or if it was a casual visit or a formal request for help. 

i talk about a lot of things. i ask about ritual tools, about upcoming events in my mundane life, about discernment and tasks and things that are asked of me, things that i’ve been researching and wondering a lot about, things that i am curious about. but i also just… chat. i’m talking with old friends and ancestors and my Gods and Allies who have been with me for most of my life. this is a comfortable and lovely ritual. 

my divination journal is open to the sample page and i have the rosebones spread on a tray next to it. there are various pieces of rosewood and trinkets on a brown woven cloth with red, white and black threads. at the top of the book is a wooden bowl of runes.

sometimes i’ll sit down and read back in my journal and catch things that i had missed at the time of writing and continue that conversation in the spaces i leave around my readings. tying those conversations together thru time gives a lot of nuance that can be missed if i just assume that my first impression was the only interpretation. it’s always amazing to me how much becomes clearer over time and how much can be contained in simple dialogue. 

over time, my runes have become the messengers of planning and events and opinions on how things are, tarot is a more colorful dialogue that answers why and how and what and where, and i have yes/no dice to clear up any misunderstandings. and then my rosebones are for talking with my Sisters. 

i really love how versatile this system is and how i can create an elaborate ritual around an important topic or simply pour a cup of tea and roll the dice to see if anyone is around to have a conversation. 

my green leather bound journal with a pick pencil, a deck of the herbcrafter's tarot, and two wooden bowls. one hold my rosebones and the other holds my runes.

i think eventually i’ll create separate journals for different Allies i chat with, but for now having tabs in my sketchbook is working ok. 

and finally, keeping my divination journals up to date gives me a pattern to use for discernment and helps me to plan my spiritual calendar for the season/year with the help of my Allies and keeps the lines of communication open. 

consent is very important to me and i want to know if everything is above board with things that i am planning and tasks that i have been given to do. being transparent and honest with the People who i trust most is my main goal in most endeavors. 

and then sometimes, it’s just nice to catch up and chat with someone i love and share a cup of tea. 

journaling as a conversation thru time.

words are hard this week, which is ironic as i’m going to be talking about journals and journaling in my practice. i’ve been sick this week. unreliable health sucks a whole lot, but it has also made me more flexible in my planning and in my expectations. i was considering skipping this post, but i promised my Sisters that i would write every week this year if i can and i’m going to keep to that promise to the best of my ability. and the best of my ability this time means a longer break and then two posts this week so i can stay on schedule. 

an open sketchbook with a colorful paper collage glues to the pages and a pen to doodle inside the print.

so! as i said, this month i’m going to write about journaling the way that i do it. i’m sure the folks who have heard me talk about journaling ad nauseum in my discord places are rolling their eyes right now. lol. but i really feel like it’s an important part of my practice and that the accommodations that i make for how i journal can be useful to other people who also have the limitations that i do.

i have been chronically ill for most of my life and because of that, i’ve had to learn to adapt my expectations and my methods to accommodate the times when i am unable to stick to my schedules, be they self imposed or external from myself. and an important part of those accomodations is to give myself the grace to be ill. there is no morality to being sick. it’s a neutral state. it just is. and when i am sick, i take care of myself until i am able to finish the projects i was working on when things fell apart. sometimes that takes years and sometimes it’s a few days or weeks. fortunately, this time i’ll be catching up instead of just skipping ahead and writing off the time lost. 

a long shelf of sketchbooks and journals from decades of journaling

i am not one of those people who have kept copious diaries since childhood. i envy those people with the fortitude to accomplish such a feat! but i am more of a keeper of non-linear conversations thu time. i do occasionally write in a therapy journal to organize my thoughts and see my situation from an outside perspective, but i rarely if ever keep those. usually those pages are torn out and cathartically torn up and either burned or flushed or buried, depending on the paper content. (pro tip. don’t flush more than one piece of very finely shredded paper down the toilet. ask me how i know. -_-; instead, finely shred that therapeutic missive and compost it with the kitchen scraps to be eaten by the bugs and fungi where it belongs.) 

now-a-days, i use google docs to gather my thoughts and then add bits of them to my art journals as sigils and prayers and spells and anecdotes with the intent to trigger my future self to remember the emotional journey it took to make that piece of art. or sometimes it’s just a piece to capture a moment in time that will be added to later as my life changes. 

to me, journaling is a non-linear conversation i’m having with myself over time. some days when i am very low on energy and focus, i prep pages with interesting papers and backgrounds and squiggles to color in and add to in future years. i’ll add little notes of encouragement  to my future self and when i read those years later, i’ll answer back and continue the conversation. i am always my past, my present and my future selves. 

an abstract colored pencil sketch in my art journal of a stack of eyes and stones in primary colors.

i have a lot of journals! i make them for many occasions and themes and rotate them as i feel moved to. i love undated day planners and sketchbooks and your average run of the mill composition book junk journals the best, tho. undated is better, but i also have fun with dated journals where i can anachronistically create collages and memory sketches and tactile reminders of a moment in time that never was. that has the energy of the time that i bought the planner, but is written years later in conversation with a past me viewed thru my present lens. 

the facts and statements don’t ever matter. it’s the emotions and the energy of the memories that i want to enrobe in crystal and metaphor. it’s healing my past and giving a nuanced and complex foundation to my future. i’m sure if any of my journals survive my life this time around, historians will hate me, haha. but this is a hypersigil of my life as it needs to be to do the Work that i do in the context that i do it. and it’s fun! 

i love bright vibrant colors and gluing things on pages and then coming back next year to update how my life has changed. i love keeping lists of seeds i want to try growing and creating books of sigils to improve my life and tarot spreads and conversations with my Gods and Allies. 

a spread in my art journal with three colored papers in rose, teal and coral and a grid of watercolor paper with random pen and ink doodles in each square.

all of these journals have no start or end. i occasionally date things, but as each page is constantly being reworked and added and subtracted from, there is an eternal feeling of change to them that is comforting to me. i am never the same person twice. my life and my being is constant change and my journals reflect that. 

there was a time a decade ago when i burned out hardcore, that i spent a lot of time in my journals. i wrote and drew all of my pain and confusion and my plans for the future that i could not envision as more than a vague hope. but as i follow the threads of conversation in that book, i can see where i had a turning point and things started getting better. and where i started going back and giving myself little hugs and encouragement and how i had left spaces open in those places for my future self to add in. 

it’s very curious to me how even now in my current, present self, i can feel those tendrils of a future me reaching back to encourage me in how i’m living now. i know that things will be rough for a while yet, but i also know that i’ll make it thru and i have confidence that we will be in a much better situation eventually, i just have to trust. and leave spaces in my journal where i can write encouragements and love to myself in the future.  

my hand holding a large red leather bound journal with junk journal pages added inside making it bigger than it's original thickness.

being creative and non judgemental can be a kind of working meditation, too. as i look back thru my art and devotional journals and reach a page that makes me cringe for whatever reason, i know that is a place where i need to sit with those feelings of embarrassment and discomfort and see where that is coming from. to dig deep into those feelings and find compassion for the past me who wrote or drew those things. who was learning and deep in the shit of life that gradually broke down into the compost that grew the better life and skills that i have now. 

it’s easy to judge my past self, but i wouldn’t be the me that i am now without the hours of practice and the billions of mistakes that i made and learned from. i’m grateful for those moments of cringe at my old art and i have no qualms about adding to those pieces and freshening them up with alterations. remixing them into something wonderful by adding the skills and experience that i have now to the energy and emotions i had then. creating a conversation over time that my future self will also continue when she’s flipping thru my journals in a few years time. 

the inside of a green leatherbound journal with copper paint and brown thread being sewn in a pattern.

no art is bad art. and good conversation is a skill. i’ve learned to roll with the ups and downs and recreate myself over and over as i mix the creative compost and hopefully grow some good things out of the process. 

this month i’ll be talking about that process as a skill and a tool in my practice and hopefully spark some inspiration and soothe some fears of a blank page. and in the spirit of my journaling process, this post is a starting point for my future self to build from.

hello future me! i hope that you have the best time with what we have planned! <3