I have been working on this post for the past couple of weeks in hopes to have it done before the end of the year, but here we are already at the start of 2019. It is hard for me to believe that 2018 has come to a close. This past year has brought about some amazing changes for The Sensual Photographer, from the launch of the online Facebook Community Unapologetic Babes (if you haven’t joined I suggest you do that right now!), the relaunch of my Brand Ambassador program and building a whole new studio space. It has been wonderful, it has been stressful, I have accomplished a lot of things I set out to do and have fallen short in other areas, including, but not limited to keeping up with this blog! I really do intend to be better about it in the coming year, but I don’t make promises I can’t keep so if I succeed I will celebrate, if I don’t I will not be too hard on myself, it just means that other areas of my life have taken priority.
Through all of the developments last year you my beautiful clients kept me going. My husband and I had not set out of buy our home last year, or completely renovate the studio or our home. There were times during the studio remodel that I really questioned what I was doing, this was a big change and a huge commitment. Then I would think of all the women I had worked with and how I couldn’t wait to give them an even better experience, in a space that I had personally designed with nothing but boudoir photography in mind. I could not have done it without all of the support and encouragement from past and future clients as well as a lot of man hours from my husband and other family members. To the clients who took a leap of faith and purchased sessions before the new studio was even completed I have no words to ever express my gratitude.
My brand ambassadors have also played a huge part in my life and business this last year. Casie, Jade, Latoya and Lori knowing you are there for me means the absolute world to me! The fact that you all believe in what I am doing at the Sensual Photographer so much to take your time to participate in the Facebook group, trust me to take your pictures (Lori’s session is coming soon), share your images and boudoir experience is so special. You are all inspiring and I adore each and everyone of you.
Now in no particular order (picking images was challenging enough) Here are my top 11, yes 11 because I couldn’t get it narrowed down to 10, favorite images I created during 2018.
Hair and makeup on these images provided by, Gina Campbell, Heidi Osborne and Kira Floofie
Happy Samhain, All Hallows Eve, Halloween to all of you beautiful humans. A few of you may have noticed that September’s Harvest moon was absent and that October’s Hunter’s Moon has already passed. I am going to be really honest with you all keeping up with a creative project like this has been extremely difficult for me. Sometimes my creativity just isn’t there or my schedule gets busy and my clients always come first which often means creative projects get pushed to the side.
To get back on track have combined the Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon with two rituals that tie into both the moons and Samhain. This eve is a particularly important one to my practice as much of the spiritual work I do is tied to animism and ancestor worship. Once my son has gone to bed tonight I will be settling down to spend sometime in quiet mediation speaking with my ancestors and leaving them offerings. The first ritual I will be sharing is a ritual designed to bring abundance and a good crop. As we have moved away from an agricultural society the definition of a good crop has changed, but the intent is still the same, the desire to be prosperous and have our necessary needs met.
Abundance Spell Bag
The components for this spell are fairly simple:
A small pouch or swatch of fabric large enough to hold your components.
A ribbon to tie your bag closed
Anointing oil such as cinnamon, patchouli or mint.
Seeds, bean, corn kernels, etc.
A teaspoon of dirt from your property or nearest to outside your door
A bit of your hair.
Lay out your components. Take a deep breath and relax. Put your awareness in the moment.
Take the oil in your hands and charge it with magnetic energy to draw financial security. Dab some on your finger and anoint the fabric with the symbol of the pentagram; a symbol of power.
Take the soil; envision your household right now as financially secure, stable, with everything you need coming your way. Charge that soil with that intent and put it into the bag.
Take the hair; envision yourself and your state of mind as a financially secure person blessed with success and abundance. Put it on the soil.
With your seeds, beans, corn all things that grow, think of the things you need in your life to help bring about abundance. Strength, patience, insight, prudence etc. Concentrate on each of these attributes as you place each component into the bag.
Close your pouch. If you’re using a swatch of fabric, gather up the ends and use the ribbon to tie it closed. Hold your hands above your bag, ask for blessings and charge it with your intent for a prosperous year. Keep the pouch with you —either in a pocket or wearing it around your neck—while you’re doing spiritual work.
I cannot imagine a All Hallows Eve post without sharing my favorite Remembrance Cookie recipe. I don’t remember where I originally found the recipe, but I find it to be a wonderful offering to leave my ancestors. They are made with rosemary which is an herb associated with remembrance. I like to use a gingerbread cookie cutter and made individual cookies for each ancestor I am honoring and the rest I like to make into autumn shapes, apples, leaves, pumpkins etc.
Ingredients for the cookies:
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter or margarine (softened)
2 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
1 1/2 T. chopped rosemary
Heat oven 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, almond extract, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture. Beat until dough forms and refrigerate for three hours. Divide dough into halves. Roll out one portion to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Cut out with gingerbread women or men cutters and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting with second portion. Bake for 5-7 minutes.
Hello lovelies, first let me apologize for the late post. I normally try to get these up earlier so you have time to prepare your full moon ritual, but we were camping this weekend and instead of rushing home this morning as we had originally planned we decided to take in a bit more of nature while we had the chance. Fall is on the horizon, I used to hate the ending of summer and the inevitable cold and damp months we experience here in the Pacific NW, but as the years have progressed I find I appreciate the changing seasons more and more. These transition periods are always refreshing and exhilarating for me. The days are cooling and we even had a bit of much needed rain. It was such a welcome sound when I woke up to raindrops hitting our tent. Even the thought of how much I dislike packing up wet camping gear was far from my mind.
August’s full moon based on the Farmer’s Almanac is the Sturgeon Moon, but the full moon for each month goes by many different names as the names were usually derived from events that happened yearly around that time. I felt that the Grain Moon was much more appropriate for August’s full moon as the moon falls so late in the month and we are in the midst of harvest season. My moon Grain Goddess drew inspiration from Greek Goddess, Demeter also known as Ceres in Roman mythology as well as the widespread European belief in the the “spirit of the corn”. She was the goddess of earth, agriculture and fertility. While most of us in our current day don’t directly participate in the harvesting of wheat and grain it is still a staple in many of our lives as it is one of the oldest crops. Moreover it is a symbol of abundance, prosperity, fertility and rebirth.
For this moons ritual we will be preparing a wheat/grain talisman often known as a corn dolly. The word corn was often interchangeable for grain in ancient times and not directly related to a particular plant and the term dolly is a reference to an idol, so the corn dolly is the representation of the spirit of the grain. They were created by weaving wheat or grain sheaves from the last harvest to preserve the spirit of the grain and then were planted with the first harvest the next year to assure abundance in the crop. Some corn dollies were made to look like a female form, while others were intricate woven patterns. For our purposes the corn dolly will be a talisman for prosperity and abundance.
This is a corn dolly that my grandmother had hanging on her door for as long as I can remember. It was one of the few things I left in place when I moved into her home.
The corn dolly we will be creating today will be one of the simplest forms, but you can feel free to look up different wheat weaving techniques if you would like to make something more complex.
What you need:
String or Thread
3 to 4 sheaves of grain 14” to 18” long. For this simple pattern you could even use long stems of grass. If your sheaves are not fresh you will need to soak them in warm water for 30 min to an hour or until they are pliable.
Grain Moon Goddess Ritual:
Use a piece of string to secure the sheaves together at the base of the head of the wheat.
Braid the stalk of the wheat until you have about 3 inches of straw left. You can do a standard 3 strand braid or you can try this 4 strand braid.
While you braid you can chant. Goddess of Grain bring me abundance, Goddess of Grain grant me prosperity, May all of my endeavors flourish and be fertile.
Tie firmly at the end of the braided section.
Bring this tie down to meet the other tie just under the heads, to form a loop of braided straw, and tie the two together.
Spread the wheat ears out between the wheat stalks and allow to dry flat, preferably under a weight.
When dry, you can clip the stalk ends decoratively, and add a ribbon bow or a small sprig of dried flowers.
Place the talisman on your alter and repeat the chant holding your corn dolly as often as needed.
Model: Hanna Buschor @hannabuschorartistry HMUA: Gina Campbell @thebirdbones
Can you believe July’s full moon is already upon us? I know I can’t; it feels like the month of July has just flown by. It has been a very busy month for me. At the start of the month my husband and I bought the house that we had been renting for the past 4 years. It was my grandparents’ home and the home my mom grew up, so it is very exciting to be able to keep it in the family. With this major change also came the decision to leave my current studio space and create a new space for my photography business to grow and thrive. It was not an easy decision and it has been a ton of work preparing for the new space, but I know you will all love it when it is completed.
That brings us to July’s Full Buck Moon. This full moon on the 27th is significant because we will be experiencing the longest full moon lunar eclipse in a century. Sadly here in the Pacific NW we won’t be able to actually view the eclipse, but that doesn’t mean it’s effects will be any less for us. I know I am personally already feeling it. Eclipses mark the beginning of something new and the ending of something old, which is why it feels so fitting that I am in the process moving out of my current studio space over the next few days. I will have my last shoot there this Sunday. It is a bittersweet end; I love my current space, but it is time for me to move on to something new and exciting. You may also be feeling extra emotional. With a total lunar eclipse in particular, the blotting out of the moon represents a resetting of your emotions, clearing away the emotional baggage of the previous six months. That clearing will bring the emotions of the past months to the surface in a very real way, so be kind to yourself. This month’s full moon ritual is a little candle magic to help you with the process of letting go and moving forward. I have also included my recipe for my Lunar Eclipse anointing oil.
Lunar Eclipse Anointing Oil
5 ml of carrier oil, I like to use sweet almond oil, but any cooking oil will work.
5 drops of cedarwood essential oil for grounding.
As the eclipse brings on often sudden rapid change you may feel like everything is falling out from beneath you. Cedarwood helps to reconnect and root you to the earth giving you stability and strength to aid you in moving forward.
1 drop of frankincense for healing.
The eclipse energy is moving you forward, but it usually means something has to end so the feeling of grieving during this time is normal. Frankincense protects, seals and heals emotional wounds.
3 drops of sandalwood for balancing emotions.
If you are feeling extra emotional during this lunar eclipse you are not alone, they have a tendency to have very strong emotional pull. You may feel like your judgment is impaired, or pieces of information may be missing. Sandalwood can facilitate restoring balance and clarity while giving you a sense of peace.
Full Buck Moon and Lunar Eclipse Ritual
Anoint your candle (blue or white) with oil and place it on your alter.
Meditate as long as necessary to relax yourself. Take a few deep breaths, release tension and let go of intrusive thoughts and worries.
Begin to visualize the things you are going to accomplish as you move forward as if they have already been done. Imagine what you’d look like, what your life would be, how you would feel.
When you have a clear visualization in mind, repeat this chant as often as you feel is necessary to raise energy. When you feel yourself bursting with your goal in mind, light the candle.
The time has come to move forward.
My past is not my present.
I honor my experiences for they have brought me here today.
I forgive myself for previous missteps.
I release the energy that is no longer serving me.
My slate has been wiped clean.
The future is mine to choose.
I choose (health, companionship, happiness, etc.)
As I will it, so it shall be.
Imagine the candle’s aura is growing and filling the whole area. Imagine it expanding into the universe. You may continue chanting if you desire.
When you feel the spell has reached its full potential take a moment to quiet your mind and then if your candle is in a safe place leave it until it burns out on its own.
Hair and Makeup by Gina Campbell, Model Melissa (Instagram @melissakate.pnw)
Coming into the Strawberry Moon I was struggling creatively. We are in the process of buying a home that we love, but is in much need of care and updates. At the same time I am designing a new photography studio which I am very excited about! Preparing for the studio renovation has been taking much of my time and attention. Along with raising an almost two year old I was feeling a little emotionally and mentally drained. Despite this I was determined to not let this moon goddess series slip, but with the full moon quickly approaching I was starting to doubt myself. The full moon energy in Capricorn swooped in right at the last minute and invigorated my determination to continue with this project. Turns out all I needed to get my creativity flowing again was for my wonderful hair and makeup artist, Gina Campbell, to bring me the perfect model for this moon. Melissa (Instagram @melissakate.pnw) was the magical Strawberry Moon Goddess I needed to reignite my passion for this project and I thank her for stepping in at the last second to bring my vision to life.
This month’s ritual is one of the most basic and primal forms of ritual that most of us practice on a regular basis without giving it a second thought, cooking. Food sustains us and gives us life. The simple act of preparing and consuming a meal is magical. Now imagine how powerful that act of cooking, or in this case baking, can be when you do it with meaning and intention. It is honestly my favorite form of magic.
Selecting a recipe with the right ingredients is a key part of magical cooking and baking. Since this is the Strawberry Moon it seemed fitting to do a strawberry dish, but that is not the only reason I picked it. Strawberries throughout history have been used for many reasons, detoxification, astringent, medicine, in particular medicine pertaining to women and fertility. It is also the favored fruit of many Goddesses including Venus, Aphrodite and Freyja. With the full moon in Capricorn I wanted a recipe that embodied the determination of this moon. Strawberry magic is just that. The strawberry plant creates young plants through runners on the ground, if one of those young plants ends up in poor growing conditions the mother plant is able to sustain it so it can continue to produce. This is a lesson in dedication and shows that even in less than ideal circumstances you can still survive and produce. It is the magic of success through inner vision that sustains until the outer world is ready to receive. I selected lemons for their magical properties that resonate with the moon and are also purifying. I used lavender to help sharpen my senses during my ritual practice and honey to help enhance the ritual.
The other part of ritual cooking is cooking with intention. Focusing on the magical properties of each ingredient as it is added and infusing the food with what you hope to gain from consuming it. For this recipe the theme of dedication and completion were strong for me, but to balance the heaviness of this moon joy, creativity and summer were there as well. Your intentions might be different and that is wonderful, ritual baking is meant to not only nourish you physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
⅓ cup lavender scented sugar (I LOVE scented sugar and use them constantly in my ritual practice. This is a great link to get you started making scented sugars.)
3 tablespoons flour
3 quarts fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon juiced
2 cups flour
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup butter room temperature
1 ½ cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 375°.
In a large bowl, combine white sugar, flour, strawberries, lemon and honey.
Place strawberry mixture in a buttered 9×13 baking dish.
Combine the rest of the ingredients with hands until crumbly. Scatter over strawberry mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm.
To complete the ritual, take a piece and leave it out under the full moon as an offering to the Goddess of your choice.