Subtitle

A personal look at the trails and triumphs of creating a business from the ground up; of starting a business selling what you create.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Astrology and the Zodiac Bath Soaks

Scorpio Bath Soak
I am personally very interested in astrology and astronomy. I'm a Scorpio Sun, Aquarius Moon and Gemini Rising (if anyone cares) which means I am constantly looking at and aware of the behind the scenes or underlying reasons of things and people. I like learning and understanding the bigger picture as well as the details to see how things work and influence each other. So my interest in the celestial bodies around us and their influences is no surprise. The average Jane only knows about their sun sign and their horoscope. To me Scorpio's have a bad reputation among the general populace. Most people think (if they care at all) if you're a Scorpio you're dark and scary and/or all about sex. This coupled with the fact that I could never find any connection with any horoscopes means I used to strongly dislike being a Scorpio. Then I learned that the Sun sign is only the beginning, just the tip of the iceberg that is astrology, and I was hooked. It is endlessly fascinating and a field I personally hope to master some day.

Your sign, also known as your sun sign, is where the sun was positioned in the sky the exact moment you were born. Obviously, it was not the only celestial body up there. We all know this thanks to astronomy (remember when Pluto got demoted? Yeah I was upset too!). The names of the planets, stars, moons, comets, etc and their positions in the sky all have various forms of folklore attached to them. Here in the USA we follow the Western Astrology which was officially created in Ancient Egypt. Thanks to our ancestors, each Zodiac sign has a constellation, animal, herb and more associated with it. The celestial bodies have the same as well. How they came up with these associations varies but its usually because they have something in common. Maybe this flower only blooms at night or this animal is only seen during a certain season when this planet is closest. That kind of thing. Also, as we know that our ancestors expressed their spirituality with many rituals for the deities for which they named the celestial bodies. Whether they deified the planets and stars or used them as archetypes we can never be sure but the connection remains. Thus, we have tons of stories and rituals to draw from as well.

And that is what I did starting with Libra. I'll be honest, I decided last year around this time to start making the Zodiac Bath Soaks on a whim.  As an herbalist you learn the history of herbs, spices, flowers, roots, barks, and other growing things. From a medical standpoint, that history includes ancient medical preparations and why they were used. I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on tv, as my friend is fond of saying) and I am not looking to cure people with my products. My aim was just to make you feel good and to make a unique product that could be used as a birthday gift.. That being said, the goal of the Zodiac Bath Soaks is to enhance the properties of each zodiac sign while taking a bath. I did extensive research for each bath soak on each of the 12 signs. Rereading herbals, history, folklore, mythology as well as the current usage and associations for tons of herbs, roots and resins. For each sign there are basic qualities associated such as an element, a planet, a duality, a house and a modality. Each of these have their own associations that I researched as well. 

Leo Bath Soak
In the end I decided on using only five ingredients in addition to the sea salt and epsom salt base that I use for every bath salt/soak that I make. The salts guarantee that the bath is still cleansing, detoxing and relaxing. Then I added the base oil which would, no matter which I chose, help keep the skin moisturized after bathing. I chose the oils based on their planetary association. Olive oil for example is associated with the Sun because it comes from the olive tree plant. The connection comes from many sources. Olive trees are native to the Mediterranean and need hot, dry climates to prosper. The Hebrew word for olive tree is related to the Hebrew word for Sun, there is also the Greek myth of Theseus who prayed to the Apollo, god of the sun for help and received a sacred olive branch, Homer coined the nickname liquid gold for olive oil, gold being associated with the sun as well. So I used olive oil as a base oil for the Leo Bath Soak since the sign Leo is ruled by the Sun in astrology. Make sense? 

From there I chose four more ingredients that had similar associations, but not the same since I wanted to create a balance. Some of the associated ingredients I picked were due to the traits they had in common with that sign. Then I mixed them all together. As I say in my description for each bath soak, each bath was created to enhance or bring out the traits of that sign in whoever uses it. We all have a little bit of Scorpio, Leo and the other ten signs in us, its just that some are more prominent than others. My original thought when making these was that they would make great birthday gifts. And they do, but I have since grown to acknowledge the fact that for those of us looking to be more in tune with the movements of the stars and planets and their affects on us could use these for magical and/or spiritual purposes. So please do so. Use it in your ritual bath to enhance your own energy, focus more on the current energy around your or to enhance your spells with a little extra oomph. 

Let me know in the comments if you have used it and how it worked out. Or if you haven't, how would you use it.

~Lashette

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How I Got Started: Paganism and Witchcraft

This is part IV, the last of the How I Got Started series. Each part can be read on their own but if you want to read part Ipart II, or part III click the links.

An old altar set up of mine.
That Paganism would draw me into a field of work I never even thought of is kind of an amazing thing to look back on. And it hasn't even been that long.When I graduated from undergrad I had a stable job and decided that my next step would be to start exploring various Pagan religions to see if that way lay a place where my spirituality was comfortable. It was. In the process of learning I was drawn to nature-based religions. They teach that all around us in energy is various forms and that we can connect with those energies to enhance our own. Those that follow nature-based religions often venerate or worship nature in its various forms; the how and why differing from religion to religion. Because of that I some of the classes or lessons I took were about topics like herbalism and natural healing. I learned about common herbs, spices, oils, roots and resins and the various ways to use them.

I was taught that these and other elements of the earth each have their own natural energies as well as a history of associations that humans have created over the years. These things could be used individually, like essential oils in a diffuser, or combined, in an oil blend, to enhance my own or others personal energies and workings so that we can affect change. I also learned how lots of plants are the basis for our modern medicine and have healing and therapeutic properties. I became particularly interested in those that helped with allergies and those that could be used topically, or on the skin, our body's biggest organ. I will add this, as much as I learned then, I am still learning now and as a friend likes to say, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

Not too long after these lessons started the natural hair movement for black women in the United States started gaining traction. I was interested in this and had been considering going natural for awhile since I didn't like the process of straightening my hair at all (in fact I hate having to go to a hair salon at all). After doing a bit of research I realized that I can use many of the natural ingredients that I had been learning about in my pagan lessons and using in my personal practice and take it one step further by using them to improve my health. Keeping my hair and skin healthy by no longer using products that had chemicals I was allergic too and starting to make my own hair and body care mixtures was so freeing. As I mentioned in my Allergies post, I am allergic to a lot of things and while this is more annoying than hazardous, it can be distracting and stressful after awhile. These natural ingredients helped take some of the load off. I wound up learning more about myself and my spiritual path.

As I mentioned previously, a friend (a witchy friend to be more specific) told me about Etsy where people can sell their handmade items. After I decided that this was a path I wanted to take another witchy friend agreed to be my business consultant. I talked in a previous post about the 'homework' she would give me. One such assignment was to think about myself and all the different facets and how I can use some or all of them to personalize my products. How can I make them stick out. She suggested I try to include my spirituality in some way. After looking around Etsy, I decided not to do that. There were tons of witches and other pagans selling their wares, spells, potions, etc. They all seemed more experienced and knowledgeable than me at the time. Nowadays things are different on Etsy due to some of their policy changes.

However, now after being a part of the Etsy and pagan communities online and in the real world I better understand finding your niche and selling something you love. As I continue to learn about herbs, skin care, aromatherapy and expanding my knowledge into related areas such as body care, self care, Reiki, chemistry, perfumery, aromachology and more, I see more connections with my spirituality. And vise-versa. I am inspired by my own spiritual journey as well as that of those around me. Right now as I am on the cusp of revealing two new product lines that have been years in the making, I keep jotting down new product ideas I want to explore. 

I had my first ever tarot card business reading recently and everything pointed to my including my spirituality in my business and using my business to clarify and expand my personal practice as nothing but a good thing. Now, I'm not one to believe in fate and having your whole life being predestined to the point where there is no choice. But I do believe in reading the signs, of weighing your options and choosing from the many possibilities. I feel we are both independent beings and connected to those around us. That every choice we make can lead us somewhere different. At this time I've made the choice to longer make such an effort to keep my businesses and my spirituality apart. I think they can only enhance each other as they have already. 

So that's how I got started. And its also how I plan to go on. 
~Lashette
Scarlet Moon Creations

Monday, October 5, 2015

How I Got Started: Creativity

This is part III of the How I Got Started series. Each part can be read on their own but if you want to read part I and part II, click the links.

As I mentioned in my last post about my business name, I like to create. While I do have a very logical and analytical mind I still love getting lost in the process of creating something. To me there is no difference between figuring out body butters and figuring out math problems. I think its the focus part of things. If something is interesting I will focus and block everything else out. And the reward when you finalize a project is addicting. But I bet you wouldn't be surprised that even after realizing this I didn't get around to making anything again for awhile. Things at first got busy again at work and then I lost my job out of the blue.

I wound up being unemployed for two and a half years. I had jobs here and there but nothing lasted and nothing made me happy so in my head it was one long dark period. I had some of the worst anxiety attacks I have ever experienced in my life and I got to experience depression for a good long time as well. IT was towards the end of this period of employment when some bits of desperation set in that a mentor suggested I try and sell some of the bath salts and body scrubs I had made at their up and coming street festival. I would get free table space in exchange for helping them plan the festival. This did not turn out well (believe me you do not want to know the details) but it did remind me that hey I have this other stuff I can do.

Sensual Massage n' Bath Oil
I got back into researching and spent time after that period mixing up new products (my massage n' bath oil line came out of that time) and remaking old ones. I tried selling at another craft fair that was a bust on the whole but the important part was I was making again. I had a friend tell me about Etsy, this online place where crafters can sell their wares. I thought this is perfect, I don't have the money for table space, let alone any of the other things I'd need to make my products enticing at a craft fair but I don't need that for an online shop.

Let me tell you I researched the hell out of Etsy and getting started with online selling. By this point in my 25 or so years of life I'd only sold used books online at half.com. I'd never even used Ebay (still haven't even though they own half.com, lol). The idea of opening an Etsy shop got me creating a business name, designing a logo, writing product description copy and even starting a blog!! It was crazy times but it got me through a lot. Focusing on this creating business was what helped me through the most boring dead-end job I have ever had, helped me reconnect with friends and family to get back on my feet; it gave me a focus and goals.

But ultimately, having a creative outlet was cathartic. I hadn't done much like this since college art and design classes. Don't get me wrong this is a business run by one woman so there is a lot of work. But there is also a lot of creating. I have a running list of products I want to offer and every year I have to tell myself to focus on one or two goals at a time and follow them through.

Even now, I plan to have two brand new product lines and a newsletter debut within the next six weeks but I've got two more product lines and one variation I am dying to try out RIGHT NOW. Add to this that I am actively working on a completely separate event planning business. I've come to terms with how much planning is a passion of mine. Even so, this year I  made the realization that even making social media content calendars feeds my always hungry creative stomach. :D No shame in my game, honestly. I have come a long way in recognizing that a balance of creativity, honesty, knowledge and planning are what keeps me happy. Scarlet Moon Creations and the upcoming Excelsior Events do that for me on a regular basis.

It is hard to believe this all started when I started looking for a better way to be spiritually fulfilled. You can read more about that in my next post in this series How I Got Started series, Paganism.